With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaching, it’s easy to put security on the backburner. But these simple steps can help make sure you’re safe when you shop and transact online.
Batten Down the Hatches
It’s easy to treat your computer like a piece of furniture, but it’s your gateway to the worldwide web which means you’re exposed to good information as well as viruses, malware and cyber scammers. Make sure your antivirus and firewall software is kept current. Most programs can be set to automatically connect online for updates in order to fend off potential threats. If you enable this feature, you can ensure you’re adequately protected at all times.
Create Strong Passwords
Experts say that changing passwords at least every 90 days can go a long way toward protecting your personal information online. Your password should be at least 12 characters in length and be a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. If you get stuck, try using a secure online password generator to help you create new ones. For even greater security, consider using two-step authentication on accounts where this feature is available. This authentication process uses an extra step such as a text message to your mobile device or your own fingerprint, so only you can gain access to your financial information.
Practice Safe Online Shopping
Make sure that any site you visit has the https:// to keep the information between your browser and the website encrypted. Free WI-FI is everywhere, but never shop or bank using unsecured networks. And don’t store your credit card information on shopping websites you use frequently; type your payment number in every time. SchoolsFirst FCU also offers Apple Pay® for credit cards, a safer way to pay by never sharing your credit card information with merchants or Apple. When shopping online, avoid using debit cards; credit cards offer more consumer protection against online fraud. For instance, your liability, or financial responsibility, is capped at $50 if fraudulent activity occurs. And, unlike a credit card, if your debit card number is hacked, cyber thieves can access the funds in your bank account.
Think Before You Click
Phishing scams involve fraudsters sending emails that mimic legitimate operations like your financial institution in an attempt to gain access to your personal information such as credit card or social security numbers. Asking for this kind of private information by email and creating a sense of urgency to respond should alert you that it’s a hoax. Don’t click on any embedded links that can lead to false websites and possibly include malicious code potentially harming your computer. If you’re in doubt, call the business that supposedly sent it. StaySafeOnline.org, powered by the National Security Alliance, offers more helpful information about how to surf securely.
Check the Security of Your Mobile Device
The FCC’s Security Checker is designed to help some smartphone owners who may not be protected against mobile security threats. It’s always wise to double-check.
Visit fcc.gov/smartphone-security for more information.
When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s email to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies.
Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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