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Protecting Your Identity Online

by User Not Found | Oct 06, 2015

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October brings with it three of our favorite things: candy, costumes, and cybersecurity!

The leaps and bounds that technology has made in the last few decades has engrained the Internet into our everyday lives, making online security incredibly important. How important? Enough so that President Obama has designated October 2015 as National Cybersecurity Awareness month.

Columbia Bank is excited to do our part during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and will be providing helpful advice and strategies that will keep real-life ghouls and goblins away from your sensitive financial information!

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Did you know that in 2013 an American fell victim to identity fraud every two seconds? While identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, being extra careful with personal information can help prevent you from falling victim to identity theft. Follow these six tried and true pieces of advice to make sure that you truly are the only you!

  1. Don’t share your secrets
    Never provide your Social Security number or any financial account information to anyone who contacts you via email, social media, or on the phone. This may seem obvious, but remember that some of the best scammers out there use social engineering tactics and not high tech methods to get valuable information from their targets.

    Remember the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? Identity thieves also realize they can get people to break normal security procedures and give up personal information by being incredibly charismatic and friendly. Remember: Columbia Bank will never ask you to provide sensitive information over the phone.

  2. Use online banking to protect yourself
    With the advent of secure Online Banking, noticing fraudulent transactions is easier than ever. Remember to regularly check your account not just for big money purchases, but also unfamiliar, small transactions. Many times cyber criminals will use these precursory tests to make sure an account is active before going on a spending spree.

    Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as purchases made online or over a certain dollar amount to add an additional layer of security to your accounts.

  3. Powerful passwords are a definite plus
    While a pet’s name or family member’s birthday might make a password easy to remember, it also makes it incredibly vulnerable. Cyber criminals can use common hacking programs and brute force attacks to crack such simple passwords relatively easily.

    Create a password that is at least 8 characters long and use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to protect sensitive information. Also make sure to not solely rely on one password across multiple accounts. Having someone gain access to one account is trouble, but having someone gain access to all of your accounts is a downright disaster.

  4. Be mindful on social media
    Hackers have been known to pour over a target’s social media accounts to find information that might help them access their accounts. Make sure to set your privacy settings so that only people you trust can see your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites you use regularly.

    Be wary of friend requests from people you do not know or who may seem overly eager to get personal information from you. As mentioned earlier, social engineering tactics are designed to put you at ease and lull you into a false sense of security.

  5. Monitor your credit report
    Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every year, so make sure to take advantage and check for any suspicious activity. Spotting a new credit card or bank account opened in your name early can prevent identity theft from spiraling out of control and keep your credit score in order.

  6. Protect your computer
    Not only should you make sure to be running virus protection software on your computer, but you should also make sure it is always up to date. New viruses, Trojans, and worms appear every day so keeping your software updated will keep security definitions relevant and your computer safe.

    When conducting business online or checking financial accounts, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon in the URL bar is active. Also, look for an S after the “http” to be sure the website is actually secure before putting in a username or password.

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With all the advancements made in cyber crime, preventing access to your important information may seem like an impossible pipe dream. But if you’re ever-vigilant and careful, your identity should remain safe, sound, and (most importantly) all yours!

Visit ColumbiaBank.com/resources anytime for more helpful security tools and advice.

 

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