By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
Our phones, iPad, and computers have changed our world. We shop online, pay our bills online and view personal and financial information online; but is it safe? Financial fraud is on the rise. In 2018, there were over 600 data breaches at major companies: Under Armour, Facebook, Orbitz, Panera Bread just to name a few. The financial reporting companies Equifax and Experian were also on that list. Scary! North Dakota is among the top 10 states for cases of identity theft and fraud in the United States. Many individuals have an “it will never happen” mindset. It is not a matter of “if”, it is a matter of “when”. In 2017 the cause of these intrusions cost Americans over $27 billion! Before you enter your credit card information into a website, check to ensure your online habits are secure. Here are a few tips.
· Change your passwords regularly, at least once a month. Do not use the same password or the same version of the password for more than one account. Mix it up using upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
· Do not over-share on social media networking sites. Someone can use information such as your birthday or address to steal your identity. Adjust your privacy settings on your social media accounts. This will reduce the number of options hackers may use to steal your information.
· How often are you reviewing your bank transactions and your credit card statements? Establish a habit of checking your accounts regularly. I check my account daily! The sooner you can identify an issue of fraud the sooner you can take corrective action.
· Never send personal information electronically. For example, never send your credit card information via e-mail or your social security number. Do not carry your social security numbers in your wallet or purse.
· Secure your home wireless network with a strong password to prevent someone from trying to get your personal information. Remember, you are not safe using public wireless access.
· Is the website you are accessing secure? Verify the web address begins with HTTPS vs HTTP, the “S” signifies the website is secure. Always make sure you are shopping online with a reputable company. If you question the company, search for it on Google to verify its authenticity.
I hope these tips are useful to you and help to ensure your online experience is safe. Your personal and financial information is important. Protecting it is vital.