Prevent the Grinch from stealing your information

Prevent the Grinch from stealing your information

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.- While most of us have embraced the technological age using computers and smartphones to efficiently shop and manage financial affairs, guarding against a cyber-Grinch is sometimes overlooked. Dan Ament, Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley joins with some tips to consider

Review and change your passwords regularly – Use strong, complex and frequently replaced passwords. Passwords should be as obscure as possible, making use of nonsensical combinations of symbols, numbers, and upper-and-lower-case numbers. DO NOT store passwords on a device that is unsecure.

If in doubt, don’t click on it – Stay alert when opening emails or downloading files. It’s like driving a car: Defensive driving can prevent mishaps. Don’t respond to emails that look suspicious. Never enter personal information on websites you don’t absolutely trust.

Use antivirus software and firewalls – There are a number of nimble antivirus programs on the market. Some are free, some you can utilize via low-cost subscription. Even if your device runs a tad slower, it’s well worth a few seconds’ wait.

Use Wi-Fi with care – When using Wi-Fi hotspots, can you trust the host? Hackers are known to park in public places, hosting “public” Wi-Fi with an innocuous-sounding moniker. If you travel frequently and don’t have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provided by your company, you may want to consider subscribing to a reputable VPN service provider. And make sure your home Wi-Fi is password-protected.

Don’t share every detail on social media. Exclude personal information like your phone number, address, upcoming vacations. If you use Facebook or other major social media sites, make sure your settings are “Friends Only.” Periodically audit any third-party applications you’ve authorized to connect to your social media profiles and disable those you don’t use.

Keep a close eye on your financial statements. If someone is siphoning an account, the sooner you find out about it, the better. This includes statements from banks, credit cards or other lenders, and investment organizations.

Wipe clean any devices you’re getting rid of … and always shred your sensitive paper documents. When selling or disposing of old devices, erase all your personal data. Securely shred any sensitive documents before disposing.

Bottom line? There’s definitely time and diligence involved in reducing your vulnerability. The ounces of prevention are well worth the peace of mind.

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