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How to Protect Yourself, Your Business and Your Family from Scammers
Scams are an unfortunate side effect of the growth of technology, and many businesses and families find themselves feeling exposed after losing data to a hacker. These days, it seems it’s easier than ever for thieves to gain access to personal info after we go shopping or sign up for a credit card. Sadly, the bad news is they often target seniors and young people who don’t have the experience to recognize a scam when they see one, especially since social media is often used to gain trust. As for businesses, both large and small business owners are faced with a constant threat of firewall penetration to get to corporate and customer information.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help protect yourself, your business and your family members from scammers and hackers. These thieves rely on easy access to your personal information, so the first step is to make sure they can’t get their hands on it. Changing passwords often, using a two-step identification process when signing in to social media, and making your online accounts private are all great ways to prevent theft of your personal info. The next step is to educate yourself on what scams may look like and how to avoid them.
Here are a few quick tips from Business On the Internet on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from data theft.
Get Familiar with Malware
Anytime you invest in a device — whether it’s a smartphone or a desktop computer — it’s essential to get familiar with ways to protect it against malware and viruses. Do some reading to find out what the most common issues are for your specific device and what to do should you be faced with one of them. For instance, knowing how to backup and encrypt mobile data will be extremely helpful when it comes to making sure your smartphone is protected.
Secure Your Devices
It’s important to not overlook the physical vulnerability of our devices as well, be it desktop computers, tablets, thumb drives, or smartphones. Leaving devices unattended means you’re leaving them open to theft. A good part of your security strategy is ensuring devices are kept behind locked doors, especially when your business is closed for the night or when you’re settled in for the evening or away from home.
If necessary, change out your door locks. Search online for “locksmiths in my area” and use Angi.com to find a qualified locksmith for the job. For homeowners, it can cost $50-$150 to rekey a door, a worthy investment when it comes to protecting your data.
Talk to Your Kids About Social Media
Your kids and teens may know not to interact with strangers online, but do they know how to spot a scammer pretending to be someone they know? It’s not always easy, but there are some clues that can give away a scammer or fraud online.
On social media, scammers will often create fake posts that lead to malware, or they’ll steal photos and other information from a public account and make a new account using that info in the hopes of drawing in the victim’s friends. Once that’s done, they can send messages asking for money or any number of requests while assuming the victim’s identity. Talk to your kids about how to spot a scammer on social media and about the dangers of giving away any information online.
Change Your Passwords Often
Even if you don’t spend a lot of time online, if you’ve ever had to set up a password for an account, it needs to be maintained often. How-To Geek notes that this means making sure it’s detailed and strong — such as using a mixture of capital letters and lowercase, adding numbers, and using special characters — and updating it. Leaving a password unattended for a long period of time may mean leaving it wide open for hackers to take advantage of.
How to Take Action
You may be wondering what steps you should take if your information is stolen or if you fall victim to a scam. The first step is to take stock of the information itself; if it was a credit card number or info tied to your bank account, CreditCards.com says to call the institution immediately and let them know your information was compromised (you may need to cancel the card). If it was personal info, such as a password or your address and email, change the password ASAP and consider investing in security software that will help you monitor your info’s safety online.
Learning a little more about computer systems can boost your confidence as well. Taking some IT classes through flexible online institutions is a great way to do this, and a big plus is that they’re affordable and easy to enroll in. You could even take coursework leading to a computer science degree. Western Governors University, for example, offers a bachelor’s in computer science for just $3,625 per six-month term, and the entire program can be completed within a two-year time frame.
Protecting your business and your loved ones from scammers and thieves can take a lot of planning and energy, but it’s simply a necessary part of owning technology these days. By educating yourself on what to do and how to prevent issues, you’re already ahead of the game.