We all want to keep ourselves and our families safe, and one way to do that is to make sure your data is safe too. Here’s a round-up of tips from the experts on how you can best keep your personal data safe.
PHONE CALLS & TEXTS
1. When you’re leaving a voicemail, do not include any confidential information. It may seem more efficient to include information like your account number or social security number when you’re leaving a message at your financial institution or insurance provider, for example, but it’s a bad idea. Those voicemails could be heard by someone other than who you intended or they could be hacked and stolen since voicemail doesn’t have high level encryption or security messages like online banking, etc. does.
2. Don’t offer confidential info over the phone if you didn’t initiate the call. Your financial institution or other government entities like the IRS or Social Security office will never call you to ask for personal information like your bank account numbers or social security number. If you’re unsure if a call is legitimate, it’s always best to hang up and then call back using their official office phone number, not necessarily the one they just called from. That way you can be sure you’re reaching the actual office you’re looking for.
3. Set up account alerts and pay attention. Within TCCU Online, you can set up text or email alerts for things like low balances, as well as withdrawals and deposits. These alerts will help make sure that you’re aware of all withdrawals and deposits, and if something doesn’t look right, you can report any suspicious activity right away.
4. Public wi-fi is not your friend. You might want to save data, but it’s not worth it for this. Never use public wi-fi (even if they have a password) to access your bank accounts or make payments with your debit or credit card. Other users can easily hack into your online activity on public wi-fi and could steal your information.
STAY UP TO DATE & PROTECTED
5. Always keep your software updated. It’s simplest to turn on automatic updates on your device, or make it a habit to run updates on a regular basis to ensure that your software is always the latest version. Many times, the latest updates also include security improvements.
6. Download and use malware protection software. Most cybercrime starts with malware, according to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Cybercriminals use it to access your computer or mobile device to steal your personal information like your Social Security number, passwords, credit card information or bank account information to commit fraud. Make sure you have the latest malware protection software on your device and set it to run security scans regularly as a good line of defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
7. Make custom passwords and keep them safe. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, you’re making a hackers life easy! They could then use that same password to access everything from your email to social media to bank accounts, for example. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, our IT team recommends everyone use a reputable password manager. There are free and paid options and most will help you create strong and random passwords, as well as save them for you securely in their app or on your desktop. Here’s a good round-up of password managers to get you started, but we recommend that you do your own research and choose the best one for you based on expert reviews.
8. Turn on multi-factor authentication. Whenever it’s an option, enable multi-factor authentication as an extra level of security in addition to your password. For example, the site may send you a text message with a code or a push notification within your email provider or social media account to verify that it’s you.
9. Use a passcode on your device and make it hard to crack. Our phones and computers are gateways to our lives. Just think about how many important accounts you have on there! From email and social media to banking apps and your mobile wallet – you definitely want to keep them protected. In addition to using your Face ID or fingerprint or iris scans, make sure your passcode is the strongest it can be. Use the 6-digit or longer option for your passcode and don’t use easily guessed numbers like 1234 or your birthday. If it’s an option, use a longer password that’s a mix of letters, numbers and symbols for extra security.
10. When in doubt, throw it out. Scammers can use links to gain access to your devices or trick users into providing personal information. If you see a link or message that looks suspicious (you didn’t ask for it, it seems too good to be true, or the hyperlink goes to a different address than you’d expect if you hover over it), DO NOT click on it. It’s always best to delete any suspicious emails, text or messages, even if you know the source.
11. Share with care. Social media is a gold mine for criminals. Being careful about what you share and locking down your privacy settings to only those you know in real life are good first steps to make sure you’re protected. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are – and where you aren’t – at any given time, and avoid posting about where you’re at while you’re still there. Also, make sure that you aren’t sharing information that could be clues to your security question answers. Those games that ask you to combine your birth month, your childhood pet and street you lived on growing up to make your Superhero name, for example, are easy ways for potential hackers to learn more about you.
12. Trust, but verify. If you get a message or friend request on social media from a stranger or someone you don’t expect, don’t just assume good intentions. Go look at the account they’re using and search for their name to see if it’s a duplicate account before responding. Many hackers are able to create duplicate accounts that look very much like the real ones, and then they can leverage these to get you to tell them things, make purchases for them or click on links. If it’s from someone you know in real life, try reaching out to them another way to see if they did, in fact, send you that message or if they may have been hacked.
Keeping your data safe is all about being vigilant. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Trust your gut, and if you have any questions about the security of your accounts or information here at Town & Country Credit Union, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-872-6358.