Security used to seem so simple. Lock your door at night. Hold onto your purse tightly when you’re in crowded areas. Maybe even purchase a safe if you want to be extra careful.
Nowadays, it’s not so simple. Everything is online. When your personal information and access to your finances are floating around on the internet, how do you lock it up to keep it safe? It isn’t as simple as turning a key. While it may not be as simple as applying a lock, there are some things you can do to help keep your information safe online.
Things You Should Do
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
When using public wifi, it is easy for others to see what you are doing online. Using a VPN gives you privacy while you shop, bank, and browse the internet. You don’t want someone “looking over your shoulder” as you input your passwords and credit card information, so you should always use a VPN.
Use Antivirus Software
We all know about vaccines and wearing masks to protect from physical viruses, but there are things that can be deadly from a technological perspective that we need to protect against as well. Using antivirus software is the digital equivalent of masking up, getting vaccinated, and quarantining, except that it doesn’t create any inconvenience for you at all.
Use a Password Manager
It seems like these days everything requires a password. You can’t even buy a pair of shoes online without setting up an account with a password! How do you keep track of all of those passwords? One common way is to use the same password or a close variation for every account you own. However, that makes it so that if someone hacks into one of your accounts, they can basically access all of your accounts. You don’t want that to happen. Instead, you should use a password manager so that you don’t have to try to remember all of your passwords and it can also create random, hard-to-hack passwords that are unique for each of your accounts.
Check Your Credit Report
It’s a good idea to check your credit report on a regular basis just to make sure there isn’t any unauthorized activity. If your information has been hacked or part of a data breach, then you will especially want to check your credit to make sure your information hasn’t been used to open up any accounts. You can get copies of your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com.
Things You Should Not Do
Download Unfamiliar Attachments
Never download an attachment that you aren’t expecting or that is from an unknown sender. If you get an unexpected attachment from someone that you know, call or text them to see if it really is from them. Don’t email them for verification, because if their email has been hacked, the hacker can respond to your email pretending to be them.
Click Unsolicited Links
Follow the same rules for links that you do for downloads. Don’t click on them unless you know what they are and you were expecting them. If it’s unexpected, verify their validity with the sender through a means other than how the link was sent.
Give Information Over the Phone
Never give out sensitive personal information over the phone. The Social Security Administration and IRS will never call you to ask for your personal or financial information. If you do get a call from someone asking for information, it is a scam and you should just hang up.
Pay With Gift Cards
Another common scam involves asking people to pay for things with gift cards. A legitimate business will never ask you to pay for someone with a gift card. Your grandchildren should be the only ones asking you for gift cards. If anyone else does, it is a scam so please don’t do it.
Email Private Personal & Financial Information
Email is not as secure as we would all like to believe and the chance that someone else could be reading your email is high. As such, never email sensitive information. If you need to communicate your Social Security number or account numbers to someone, call them on the phone. Of course, make sure you know who you are talking to on the phone and you have initiated the interaction!
As you can see, there are a number of things that you can do to keep your information safe in this digital age. Following wise practices like this will greatly reduce your risk of having your data compromised, but it is important to remember that nothing is foolproof. We live in a world that is full of risk and it is impossible to eliminate all risks. Instead, we do our best and put our trust in God who can protect us and will carry us through hard times.
About Guide Financial Planning
Guide Financial Planning is led by founder Ben Wacek, who is a Christian fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He has a passion to help people of all income levels make wise financial decisions and steward their resources from an eternal perspective using Biblical principles. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he works with clients both locally and virtually throughout the country and abroad. You can follow the links to learn more about Guide Financial Planning and our team and the services we offer.