In a time where an increasing number of people are using online access channels to make their everyday lives more convenient; fraudsters are also making the move to more sophisticated online scams. In light of fraud prevention month, two Valley First experts share a few simple tips on how to stay cyber safe.
Beef up your password and PIN
Lindzee Herring, senior manager of corporate security at Valley First stresses that changing your PIN reduces your risk of fraud but it is often not enough. “Don’t make it easy for scammers to guess your password – try and get creative with it. You should never use easily guessable passwords like 1234 or your birthday. Instead, use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.”
Build up your firewall to safeguard your personal computer
“I always remind people to make sure they’re running up to date anti-virus software,” shares Dominic Vogel, IT security analyst at Valley First. “It’s something that can be easily forgotten but you should always update your applications or better yet, set them to update automatically. Also make sure any software installed on your computer is from a reputable company.”
Be wary of public Wi-Fi including mobile devices
“Be aware of what network you are connecting to when you’re out in public,” cautions Vogel. “Public Wi-Fi or ‘hot spots’ may not necessarily have sufficient security, increasing your risk of exploitation. These types of connections are great for web browsing on news or sports, but you should be weary of giving out any personal information. Your mobile provider network encrypts communications, which makes it more secure to use for websites that require login credentials.”
Are you social media savvy?
Social media use is on the rise but that doesn’t mean everyone recognizes the risks associated with using these platforms. “People should use common sense when posting personal information on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter,” says Herring. “Before engaging in the conversation, you should always review and update your privacy setting to limit what information is public. Avoid disclosing any financial or personal information that may put you at risk of online fraud.”
Herring offers one last bit of advice: “Use your common sense and take the extra step to avoid becoming a victim. I always recommend people contact their internet service provider and discuss with them their options for online protection. For internet banking, most financial institutions offer alerts that will send you a note if someone has changed your password or set up a vendor on your account – these are great features to take advantage of to protect yourself. Lastly, being proactive is key. People should review their online accounts regularly and report any suspicious activity to their financial institution right away.”