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Digital Corner. Protecting Your Privacy In The Digital Age

I would like to share a personal experience about fraud and my grandparents.

Last year my grandfather received a phone call from a man who claimed to be a lawyer in Virginia who told him that his grandson was in that state at a wedding, that he got drunk, drove, was arrested and needed $3,000 for bail money. My grandfather did exactly what any other caring family member would – he raced to a Western Union office to send the money.

My grandmother thought it was a bit odd and decided to call me and ask if my brother had traveled out of state to a wedding. He had not. My brother was safe at work in Ventura. I told them to get back in the car and get back over to the Western Union office to put a stop on the wire transfer. Thank goodness they called me in time and got back to the Western Union office in time. We were very fortunate and happened to get their money back.

Very scary!

So how can you protect yourself from crafty digital-age criminals?

Thieves are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. A lot of the technology you use everyday can leave you open for a possible attack. There is no guarantee that anyone’s information is 100% safe, no matter how careful you are, but there are a few small things you can do to reduce your risks of becoming a victim.

 

Phones.

When it is possible, try to keep your private conversations private. In order to ensure that private conversations are not being spied on, sensitive conversations should be done in person and in a private location.

Cell phones are less secure than land-line telephones and with the right technology your cell phone signal can be intercepted. It is best to keep your cell phone password protected and all of the information backed up. There is quite a lot of personal information stored on your cell phone that you may or may not know about:

  • Your social security number
  • Your full name
  • Your address
  • Your bank account numbers
  • Your credit card numbers
  • Other miscellaneous account numbers

Computers, spyware and deleting files.

Your personal computers contain a wealth of your most personal and valuable information as well as a venue for exploitation and theft by savvy criminals. The easiest way for a criminal to steal information off of your computer is to physically steal the computer. Laptops are prime targets for theft and you should never leave one unattended. Never leave them in your car, do not stow them in overhead bins while traveling and when you are at home, store them some place that they are not easily seen.

Also:

  • Secure your computers with passwords that are not easily guessed.
    • It is best to use alphanumeric passwords if you can remember them.
    • Or use an odd sentence that makes sense to you.
    • Keep in mind that the longer your password is, the more characters it contains, the harder it will be to guess.
    • Don’t write your passwords down anywhere someone could stumble upon them. It’s best if you don’t keep written records of your passwords.
  • Make sure that you have good virus protection installed on your computer.
  • Never click on any links in emails or online that you do not recognize or that you are even slightly are unsure about… even if it comes from a friend or family member.

Truly deleting digital files is not as easy as it sounds. You may think that once you delete something from your computer that it is gone forever, but a lot of times that is not the case. Physically destroying old hard drives that you no longer need is the best way to make sure no one will retrieve any of your sensitive data.

We all do a lot of shopping online which means we are all typing our credit card numbers into lots of different websites. Make sure the company you purchase from is reputable. If something seems too good to be true, it is! Massive discounts on normally very expensive items from shady online stores are going to cost you a lot more than you think.

Protecting yourself from victimization truly is in your hands. Making small changes in your life and keeping an eye on your information and your technology can keep you and your family from identity theft or other problems.

We hope we have enlightened and not frightened you.

This Article was written By Kim Ralph the owner of TeCHS. A technology firm in Ventura County, California. She can be reached by phone at (800) 669-2022 or by email at info@ezdigitallife.com.