Do you ever feel like you want to “bury your head in the sand” to protect yourself from predators, both physical and virtual ones? I don’t blame you. The world is fraught with personal and physical risks that threaten your safety. The key is to be aware of the potential perils and take steps to mitigate your exposure.
It’s not easy to protect your information in a technology driven world. The chances are, at some point, you will engage in activities that make you a target—whether that’s using an ATM machine, online shopping, or just chatting with friends on social media.
Since virtually all our private data is stored electronically somewhere, it’s no surprise identity fraud is on the rise and the thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated. While it’s not practical or possible to avoid online activities, you can take steps to become less of a target.
Best Practices Include:
Be protective of your ATM and credit cards. The latest ATM and Point of Sale (POS) system frauds involve installing devices on or embedding malware in the machines to gain access to accounts. When possible, use bank ATMs as they are more likely to be monitored by a security camera and not contain hacking devices. Don’t ever share your cards or PIN numbers with anyone else. Be sure to review your bank and credit card activity on a regular basis, if not daily. If you notice any transactions that look suspicious, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
Use discretion when online shopping. Not all websites are created equal. Check to make sure the website address shows the locked padlock image on the status bar or contains “https://, versus http://” before disclosing any personal or financial information.
Don’t access the internet through public Wi-Fi networks, even those that are password protected like hotel websites, as they are not secure and easily compromised. Instead connect online through a virtual private network, typically provided by employers for business use, or invest in an unlimited data plan and create a personal internet “hotspot” with your mobile device. Make sure your home Wi-Fi networks are secured with a unique password, never use the default assigned by the manufacturer.
Keep in mind what you share on social media can be used by thieves for malicious purposes. Even if you use security settings, the data can still be hacked, so avoid posting personal information that could put you at risk for identity theft.
Consider using an Identity Theft Protection Service, like Identity Guard or LifeLock, to monitor your credit and financial account activity.
Utilize two-factor authentication whenever possible as an extra layer of security for your online activity. Two-factor authentication commonly involves logging into your account with a password and then receiving a code via text on your phone that you enter. To access your account, a hacker would have to steal both your password and your phone, making your data much more secure.
PERSONAL AND PHYSICAL SECURITY
Today’s propensity for information sharing on social media sites is making people visible to both their friends and fraudsters. “Personal security relates to the safety of human beings and physical security relates to the safeguarding of access to physical assets such as home and business facilities.”[i] Implementing enough controls to protect yourself without restricting too much of your freedom is a balancing act. It’s important to understand what your risks are and then take the necessary precautions.
Best Practices Include:
Don’t broadcast your location on social media. Heading somewhere exotic for vacation? Keep it to yourself until after you get back, unless you want to jeopardize your personal safety and put your assets at risk.
Background check or, at the very least, thoroughly vet every employee, contractor or vendor that has admittance to your home. The clearance provided to these individuals gives them access to your private information and whereabouts, creating personal safety and financial risks.
Make sure your insurance coverage is comprehensive and covers your home, autos, valuables and family. If you retain household staff, you need to obtain worker’s compensation and employment practices liability insurance.
Install a centrally monitored home security system and make sure it’s properly maintained and tested. Today’s home alarms are high tech, allowing you to monitor your premises remotely via a computer or smartphone. Not only will they alert you about a possible intruder, they can also be equipped to warn you about the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide. The peace of mind these devices offer is well worth the equipment cost and nominal monthly monitoring fee.
Today’s world is a security minefield and it’s impossible to eliminate all potential threats. By keeping your eyes wide open and navigating around the perils, you can be confident in knowing you’ve taken the necessary precautions to safeguard your lifestyle.
[i] Family Office Exchange. (2019). FOX FORESIGHT, WHAT’S ON THE MINDS OF MEMBERS.
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