Guess what the hackers are doing now? Getting in to your social media accounts. What can you do to protect yourself?
Most of us are familiar with the basic ways to protect our identity: Don't give your social security number or bank information over the phone, don't carry too many credit cards, never carry your social security card, shred you old financial records.
But what about your social media accounts?
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in our country. According to a recent article in "More" magazine, there were more than 12 million victims last year alone. Much of the recent increase has been driven by jumps in new account fraud (which occurs when someone uses stolen information to secure a credit card or loan). And guess what? You are at higher risk if you are a social networker. It's not always obvious why every random piece of data needs to be protected, but be vigilant about it!
Hackers have become sophisticated at using one bit of information as a wedge to pry loose a lot more. Think about it. If a thief gains access to your contacts, he can easily set up a spoof e-mail address in your name and trick members of your entire network into sharing information.
So, what can you do to protect your identity? Make yourself hard to hack, here's how:
• Pay for privacy on Wi-Fi. If you ever use public Wi-Fi, at a hotel, coffee shop or the airport, hackers gain access to your computer or phone. Invest in a virtual private network. Subscription software that encrypts web traffic.
Disable geo-tagging. This feature on your smartphone, iPad, and digital camera attaches information, like where your photo was snapped, to the pictures you take. When you share or post the photo, you give away that data. The geo-tagging on-off switch varies by device. On an iPhone, go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services, and click OFF.
Protect your Wi-Fi at home. Install a firewall to prevent hackers from obtaining information from your hard drive or hijacking your computer to use for other crimes. Also, install virus protection software and update it on a regular basis.
Never open email from someone you don't know. Especially if you download attached files or click hyperlinks within the message, which can expose you to viruses or infect your computer with "spyware" that captures information by recording keystrokes or may lead you to "spoofs" (websites that replicate legitimate business sites).
When it's time to upgrade your computer to a new one, remove all of your personal information from the old one. Using the "delete" function is not enough. Overwrite the hard drive by using a "wipe" utility program. The minimal cost of investing in this software may save you later from being wiped out by identity theft.
Another important thing to worry about? Yes. But by diligently protecting your identity your pay off is peace of mind.
As always, I welcome your calls and emails. I can be reached at (801) 226-0800 or Amy@keelerthomas.com.
• Amy Marty is a registered Representative offering securities through SagePoint Financial, Inc. She is an Investment Advisor Representative offering securities with Keeler Thomas, Inc. A registered investment advisor serving clients in 35 states, she has had 20 years experience in helping individuals and families meet their financial lifestyle goals. All investments involve risk including the potential loss of principal. Please note that individual situations vary. Therefore, the information presented here should only be verified upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.