5 Helpful Tips To Secure Your Personal Information
5 Helpful Tips to Secure Your Personal Information, Engagement pictures on Instagram. Job relocation announcements on Facebook. Birthday celebrations shared over Snapchat. Whether it’s a simple picture of your home decorated for the holidays or a video of your wedding day, not much is kept off social media these days.
While it’s fun to update your friends and family on your latest adventures, you could potentially be oversharing and aiding thieves interested in stealing your personal information. It’s important to be aware of what you’re posting online to protect yourself from identity theft and to ensure your private information isn’t leaked.
Here are 5 tips to help keep your sensitive information safe:
1. Social Media – Pause Before You Post While you may want to keep your friends and family in the loop, it’s essential to maintain a profile clean of all personal information. Before sharing a post, think to yourself, “can an identity thief use this information to access any of my accounts?” If so, you may want to reconsider sharing. Oversharing on social media includes posting sensitive information such as your address, full birthday (month/day/year), license plate number, credit status, driver’s license number, passport information, social security number or your school’s name. Facebook offers an extensive “about me” section, but remember, it’s not mandatory. Leave these fields empty or choose smart answers such as listing your birthday month and day, while leaving out the year. Simply list the state you reside in, as opposed to your home town. These simple choices can help protect you in the long run. Most importantly, don’t forget to review your privacy settings and make sure you know all your social media “friends.” Having a lot of friends on social media may serve as an ego boost, but it also decreases the control you hold over the information you post.
2. Program Automatic Software Updates to Occur It’s tempting to push the “remind me later” button when you see a software update pop-up, but it’s essential to keep your operating system’s software up-to-date at all times. To avoid lapses between updates, and for ease of mind, set your computer’s automatic updates. Keeping your firewall, Java and Flash updated will help you keep viruses and hackers out.
3. Laptops – Lock Them Up Have you ever found yourself working in a coffee shop, getting up to use the restroom but wondering what to do with your laptop? Chances are you just left it unattended. While the customers at Starbucks may look trustworthy, you can never be too sure. Instead, err on the side of caution and lock it up. Password protection can assist in deterring unwanted guests and should be the first course of action. However, you may want to consider purchasing a laptop combination lock for added security. They can be purchased online and can save you a ton of time, money and stress.
4. Free Wi-Fi Doesn’t Always Mean Safe Wi-Fi! Because we live in a world run by technology, you can probably find a “free Wi-Fi” sign just about everywhere you go. You can find it at the airport, grocery store, mall, coffee shop, book store and universities. While free Wi-Fi may be perfect for browsing your Facebook feed or binge-watching episodes of Stranger Things, any information you send over this connection may not be secure. Before shopping online, logging into your bank account, or accessing your latest credit card statement, make sure you are utilizing a secure wireless connection to ensure all your information is protected.
5. The Little Computer in Your Back Pocket From Apple Pay to Chase Mobile, your smartphone is filled with more personal information than you probably even realize. As technology continues to evolve, society seems to trust smartphones to hold personal information more and more, and that comes with higher risk. Paying for your Chick-fil-A with Apple Pay or depositing your pay check using your iPhone may be super convenient. But convenience should never supersede protecting yourself and the information your phone holds. Always make sure to utilize the PIN/password function on your phone and never share this code with others. Keep your phone’s operating system up-to-date and avoid leaving your phone unattended. Likewise, take advantage of the applications offered by your phone’s operating system such as Android Device Manager or Find My iPhone.
Ruben & Nancy Villarreal
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