Monday, May 18, 2015

CYBER SECURITY- Protect Your Information from Theft

The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office have begun a statewide educational campaign on cyber security. On May 12, AARP hosted a Cyber Security event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle where over 200 consumers listened to various experts talk about different aspects of cyber security.

Cyber security includes measures to protect computers (PC’s, laptops, tablets and smartphones), networks, software and data from unauthorized access.

AARP recently conducted a survey of Washington adults that shows that 73% access the internet every day. Clearly, the internet has become an integral part of our everyday life. In addition, of those users, at least 39% said that they use free Wi-Fi service at least once a month.

In other findings:

  • Of those who said that they use Wi-Fi once a month, one quarter (25%) said that they use free Wi-Fi for financial transactions and 22% use free Wi-Fi to make purchases that include their credit card information.
  • 25% do not use a passcode on their smartphone.
  • 61% have not set up online access to all of their credit card and bank accounts.
  • 41% have not changed the password to their online access to their credit card of bank accounts.
  • 43% receive mail in an unlocked mailbox. Of those, 60% receive paper statements.
  • 66% leave a personal item in sight in their car.
AARP interprets the results of the survey as a warning that consumers are not taking effective measures to protect the information that they have access to on their PC’s, tablets and smartphones. They point out that various criminals, both locally and internationally, have the capability to hack into your computer.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network recommends the following:

  • Do not access your credit card, bank account, or conduct online purchases using a free Wi-Fi network. Local hackers can eavesdrop on your device or even set up a fake Wi-Fi network to gather personal information and your ID’s and passwords.
  • Set up a password for your smartphone. Should you lose your phone or should it be stolen, a password will make it more difficult for a thief or someone who finds your phone to see sensitive information that you have on it.
  • Check your credit card and bank accounts online regularly. Online access is not only convenient it is secure. As long as your see the “https” in the address bar of your browser your link to your account is secure. Some security experts recommend that consumers check their accounts daily for suspicious transactions and report them promptly to your financial institution.
  • Change the passwords to your sensitive credit card, bank account and shopping online accounts regularly. Some experts recommend every 90 days. Also use strong passwords.
  • Use a locking mailbox for your mail. Even with more people receiving their statements via email, mail theft is a major source of personal information such as account numbers for identity thieves. It’s OK to receive a paper statement in the mail if you want, just be sure that it is delivered to your locking mailbox.
  • When you park your car, do not leave anything visible in it. Car prowlers are looking not only for items to sell for their drug habits, they are increasingly looking for account numbers that can be found in your wallet, purse, laptop or smartphone.

AARP Fraud Watch Network Shady Signals Report:




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