Just about everything you do today carries a cyber security risk: networking on social platforms, working from home in the COVID-19 era, video conferencing for work or leisure, paying bills or shopping. Learn how to protect your personal information whenever you engage in technology using your phone, computer or tablet.
TIPS FOR ALL AGES
Whether you’re a teen or adult, you probably have a smartphone and at least one social media account.
Here are some tips to help maintain your privacy and keep your account secure.
- Use a strong password on all your accounts, and don’t share your password.
- Control your privacy settings to limit who sees your posts.
- Confirm that you actually know your social media “friends.” When you receive a friend request, even if that person has a friend in common with you, confirm that the request is legitimate and that the person is actually who they say they are.
- Confirm that the invitation is legitimate by contacting your mutual connection.
- Avoid online bullying; if someone posts something negative, disengage.
- Be leery of unknown callers. Use your caller ID and phone settings to avoid answering calls from unknown sources; if someone you know calls from a new number, they’ll leave a message.
- Use extreme caution with email. Use a provider with robust spam and phish filtering. Do not click on links in emails from unknown sources.
ESPECIALLY FOR TEENS
- Ponder before you post. Internet content is forever, and your posts could be discovered years from now when your situation could be very different. Remember that everything you post is promoting you and your personal brand.
- Don’t overshare. If a picture or post is something that would embarrass you, your parents, your school or a future employer, don’t post it.
ESPECIALLY FOR SENIORS
Social media can be a great tool for seniors to stay connected and pursue their interests. If you are a senior citizen, you may be in a demographic group that has more financial resources than younger people, making you a more attractive target for scammers. Using a few precautions while online can make engaging in social media safer and more enjoyable. To avoid common scams:
- Beware what you share. Review your social media accounts and make sure that they are set to “private,” so that only your friends and family can see your posts.
- Search your name. Try putting your name into an internet search engine to see what information about you may be available to a potential scammer. Do the same thing on social media platforms – without logging in – to learn what others can see about you. If you are sharing too much information, go to the privacy settings and restrict who can see your information and what information they can see.
- Practice caution on dating sites. Even if a dating site is legitimate, the person you meet online may not be. When corresponding with a potential date, watch for frequent spelling errors and fake photos. Be skeptical of those who profess love early in the relationship or who avoid an in-person meeting. Scammers often claim to be working overseas.
- Always be cautious about anyone asking for money. Never send money to anyone you meet online.
- Be leery of phone calls from people you do not know. No one from the government will ever call you and demand money or your personal information or threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not provide it. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the government, ask them to send you a certified letter. If you actually receive a letter (odds are that you will not), search for the return address and phone number online and, if it’s a legitimate address and number, call to follow up. If you receive an email or call from the IRS, call them directly at 800-829-1040 for information. The IRS provides tips to avoid becoming a scam victim.