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By Kate Streit
As more aspects of our lives go digital, it becomes increasingly important to make sure we’re protecting our personal information online. You’ve heard the horror stories about stolen identities and hacked accounts. In order to keep your information as secure as possible, it’s essential to take the proper precautions. Here’s how to keep your information private.
Aim to make strong passwords that are long enough and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower-case letters. One clever password hack is to use an acronym as a stand-in for an easy-to-remember phrase.
You may also want to consider using a password manager, which installs as a browser plug-in. When you log into a site, it saves your credentials and offers to automatically fill in those credentials on subsequent visits. Password managers eliminate the need to come up with and remember multiple, unique logins and passwords.
Answers to common security questions meant to protect your accounts are often pretty easy to find. If you choose to use your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet for a security question, be sure not to share the information broadly, and check to see if it’s easily found online. Some security experts even recommend answering your security questions with outright lies to protect against fraud.
Social media is great for keeping up with friends and family, but be careful about what you post on networking sites. The more personal information you share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, the easier it is for hackers to take that and use it to guess your passwords and security questions, putting your identity and accounts at risk.
You should never share your full, legal name, social security number, physical address or phone number on sites that are completely accessible to the public. Consider limiting who you add as a friend or follower on social media sites to reduce your exposure.
Setting up fraud alerts is a great way to monitor your accounts because it alerts you of a suspicious transaction. For example, if Alliant’s fraud monitoring systems detect that a purchase is suspicious, you’ll get a text. You can respond to either approve the transaction you’re trying to make or you can decline the transaction if it isn’t valid.
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. Creditors typically request access to your credit report before approving a new account or loan, so a credit freeze prevents identity thieves from opening up new accounts in your name. When you need to approve access to your credit report, you can contact the credit reporting companies to allow access.
You should always keep an eye on all of your accounts to monitor for possible fraud. In order to qualify for reimbursement in many instances of fraud, you must report it within 60 days, so time is of the essence. Make it a habit to review your accounts regularly to ensure you’re on top of any problems.
Many digital banking channels now make it possible to easily check your account on the go from your mobile device. Many institutions also offer opt-in, two-way, real-time text and email alerts that will keep you apprised of any suspicious transactions on your accounts.
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