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Treat Your Accounts like Cash

Did you ever look at your personal data and equate it to cash? We all should do that. Given the sheer number of criminal schemes in cyberspace, we must be vigilant to protect our personal information from fraud. You wouldn’t walk around with cash falling out of your pockets or purse, would you? But this is a new world. Our personal information tumbles out every time we buy something or search the Internet.

So, how can we be reasonable consumers, enjoy shopping online or anywhere else and avoid being victims of fraud?

Here are some basic tips for protecting your personal information:

  • Be careful what personal information you share. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Anytime you are asked for your personal information in a webform, an e-mail, a text, or a phone message, pause and think about whether you can really trust the request. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy.
  • Limit the information you share on social media and keep your friends list selective. Review your privacy options often because social media sites can sometimes change algorithms (how sites decide which posts are seen), leaving you exposed.
  • Stop taking online quizzes that ask random questions about your childhood, children, tattoos, marriages, pets, and favorite foods. Each time you take one of these, people trying to access your data gather a little bit more information about you that allows them to eventually steal your data or identity. Scammers may be making a profile of you every time you take these quizzes, all with the intention of stealing your identity and using it to either sell to crooks or to defraud you.
  • Use unique, strong passwords for each online account. Do not save your passwords on your device.
  • Protect online transactions with data encryption software.
  • Limit what cards you routinely carry. Take only ID, credit and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.
  • Share your Social Security number only when necessary. This goes for your kids’ numbers too.
  • Before sharing information at your child’s school, workplace or doctor’s office, ask why they need it and how they will safeguard it.
  • Backup your data by making copies. Select the hardware or method to store your data. Then, safely store the backup device that holds your copied files.
  • Check your credit union and credit card statements. When you spot anything questionable, contact the organization to stop payment on the purchase and cancel your card. In the same vein, check your credit report at least annually.
  • Destroy the labels on empty prescription bottles before you throw them out. Or scribble out personal information with a sharpie.

The above preventative measures are just the tip of the iceberg of the things you can do to protect your data. We encourage you to check out the many resources and articles at staysafeline.org.

Data Privacy Day is January 28, 2021

Each January 28, hundreds of organizations and individuals collaborate to generate awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

Tower is once again committed to supporting Data Privacy Day. This is part of a greater campaign that promotes awareness of the importance of privacy, highlights easy ways to protect personal information and reminds organizations that privacy is good for business.

This year, we are encouraging everyone to “Own Your Privacy” by learning more about how to help protect the valuable data that is online. One simple thing you can do is to update your privacy settings by using a helpful tool created by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

The Data Privacy Day initiative is officially led by the NCSA, a nonprofit, public-private partnership dedicated to promoting a safer, more secure and more trusted internet. You can follow NCSA on Facebook and Twitter for updates and resources and use the official hashtag #PrivacyAware to join the conversation.

Resources: Security.org, LifeLock, FTC.gov, cisecurity.org, PC Magazine, NCSA