Tips to Protect Your Personal Information While Online

In this digital age, there are all types of threats such as identity theft and phishing that could wreak havoc on your personal finances if you fall victim to them. The key is to remember to treat your personal information just like cash – keep it secure until you need to use it.

Here are some tips and best practices to keep your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank and utility account numbers safe from cyber thieves, according to the IRS and other government agencies.

  • Provide personal information only over encrypted websites.
    Stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address (the “s” is for secure) and for every page of the site.
  • Protect your passwords.
    The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Use at least ten characters; 12 is ideal for most home users. Mix letters, numbers and special characters. Try to be unpredictable by not using your name, birthdate or common words. If you write down your passwords, keep them in a secure place, out of plain sight.
  • Watch for email scams.
    Don’t assume ads or emails are from reputable companies. Research them to see if they are legitimate. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just because a website displays an ad for another site doesn’t mean that it endorses the advertised site or is even familiar with it.
  • Don’t over-share on social media.
    Think before you post. Do you know how much of your information is available by doing a simple web search of your name? All of these items can be used by identity thieves! Even a social media post boasting of a new car can help thieves bypass security verification questions that depend on financial data that only you should know.
  • Back up your computer files.
    It doesn’t matter if it’s a Mac or PC - no system is completely secure. Copy important personal and financial files onto a removable disc or a back-up drive and store it in a safe place. This allows you to still have access to your files even if your computer is compromised.
  • Save your tax returns and records.
    Your federal and state tax forms are important financial documents that you need to safely store – both in printed form and electronically. Taking these steps shortly after doing your taxes will help you more easily prepare next year’s tax return. Remember to use a file encryption program to add an additional layer of security should your computer be compromised.

Members who use Travis Credit Union’s free Online Banking can set up account alerts to receive an email for any type of activity on their accounts. It’s the quick and convenient way to stay connected to your accounts! If you’re not yet enrolled in free Online Banking, visit www.traviscu.org to get started.

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