Emergency Preparedness Committee: Virtual Safety

Last month we discussed some issues surrounding current practices of scams, identity theft, fraud, unwanted phone calls, etc. Let’s revisit some of these as they are becoming more prevalent in our daily interaction over the Internet, telephone, and with credit card use.
Did you read a recent article in the OC Register on password security? It’s a good start in being vigilant, but only scratches the surface of how to protect you from identity theft, fraudulent credit card charges, e-mail account compromisation and the list goes on. Short of armed robbery, many law enforcement agencies say these actions not only rob you of your money and safety in your own home, but your personal identity associated with family issues, banking, wills and trusts, and virtually
all of your secure information.
What can you do to minimize these fraudulent intrusions? The first step is HUGE! Your use of passwords for your internet sites (banking, investment accounts, online shopping, facebook and other social media accounts), ALL of these can be better protected if you simply change your current passwords to many of your accounts. An inconvenience? Maybe, but the alternatives are worth it. How many of you are using family names of children, home addresses, nick names (surferdude, carnut, etc.)? Or, even the almost absurd (password123)? DON’T include your kid’s names, birth-dates, or any other personal details. Hackers routinely troll Facebook and Twitter for clues to passwords like these. It’s not only the Russians that can compromise our most sophisticated security sites, but the neighborhood hacker that wants to get access to any accounts you might have for personal or financial gain. And then there are the back room hackers who are looking for a bigger payoff with technical expertise to crack companies that have thousands of client files and their names, social security numbers, addresses, birth-dates, etc.
The first step in insuring you are using a more bullet proof password is simply to make them more difficult to crack by using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols not associated with any personal information (names, ages, addresses, birthdates). Another is by using a password manager service such as LifeLock, LastPass, or DashLane, which keep track of multiple complex passwords for you. Some are free and others charge a reasonable fee. Why not look into these options and determine how they might reduce the angst and make you feel you have a lock on your security? I would suggest you do your own homework by further contacting your internet provider (COX, AOL, etc), your personal banker, your broker. Also review endless websites that offer suggestions such as the FBI’s Internet
Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov/media/defalt.aspx or the LooksTooGoodToBeTrue website https://www.lookstogoodtobetrue.com; or the simplest way is to
Google: personal identity theft, internet scams, phishing scams, data breach, e-mail account compromise, ransomware, chargebacks, and again, the list goes on.
Just sayin’. . .
—Kent Wellbrock

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