Protecting Your Identity Online

woman using laptop, online shopping, online security, identity theft protection

It’s that time of year again! Tax time, that is. With tax season also comes an unfortunate share of tax scammers. While none of us necessarily like having to pay taxes, there’s no question that falling victim to a fraudulent tax scam is less enjoyable by far. Though you can encounter financial fraud artists at any given point throughout the year, it is imperative to remain extra vigilant as you enter tax-filing season to ensure you don’t fall for any nefarious schemes.

1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

You’ve likely taken precautions to secure your home network, so it makes sense to do most of your online activity there. Public computers are convenient, but be careful before entering passwords and sensitive account information when using these machines. Many store login data in the web browser history, so after you leave, the next person who uses that computer might be able to see your login credentials and access your account. When using public computers, always be sure to log out of any accounts you are signed in to, and it’s also a good idea to take it one step further and clear the device’s browser data when you are done.

If you’re on your own laptop or mobile device but using public Wi-Fi to access the Internet, you could run into similar issues. You can’t be sure the network you’re on is secure, and if it’s not, a lurking hacker could see any information you send. When you use public Wi-Fi, consider updating the settings on your device to make sure you don’t automatically join networks you won’t use regularly.

2. Install Antivirus Software

Many antivirus companies will send security patches to your computer automatically, so you don’t have to be a tech genius to get the most up-to-date protection. In addition to installing an antivirus program, it’s a good idea to check your operating system, web browser and mobile devices to make sure they also have the latest software updates so you can ensure you’re secured, no matter where you go.

3. Buy from Trusted Companies

Shopping from trusted brands and companies not only gives you confidence in the products you buy, these brands are also more likely to have the latest and most effective security measures in place to protect their customers. If you’re considering making a purchase from a company you aren’t familiar with, do some research first. How long have they been in business? Do they have a history of positive customer reviews and ratings? Asking these questions first can save you money (and hassle) if the business turns out to be illegitimate.

4. Be Smart with Your Passwords

Strong passwords include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Your password should never be easily guessed, so avoid making it anything referencing personal information, such as your or a loved one’s birthday or a pet’s name. Security experts recommend that you change your passwords at least every few months, and don’t use variations on previous passwords. You should also avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, especially your online banking accounts.

At Robins Financial Credit Union, safeguarding our members’ information is a top priority. We have tools in place that help you monitor and track your finances, so you’re never caught off guard. We even help you monitor your FICO® Score by providing eligible members access to view their FICO® score within Digital Banking. To learn more about how we protect our members every day, give us a call or stop by any of our branch locations.

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