Today, the majority of people’s private information is stored in computer, or in “the cloud.” Indeed, even if you personally do not use online banking or make online purchases, a party that carries your information–like Equifax–could be subject to a data breach. When this happens, your personal information, including things like your name, birthday, Social Security number, bank account information, credit card number, religion, political affiliation, driver’s license number and more could all be at risk. What should you do?
Whether or not your private information is safe and secure in today’s digital world is a serious question. Here are some things that you can do to protect your privacy–
Be Careful About to Whom You Give Your Social Security Number
You should be careful about to whom you give your Social Security (SS) number, even if it’s only the last four digits. In fact, the only parties that you should give your SS number to include your bank, the IRS, and parties that require a background check. Otherwise, be protective of your SS number, and never give it out online. Also, be sure not to use any of it it as part of a username or password.
Use Unique Passwords
Are you still using the name and birthday of your oldest child to sign into your bank account? Or using the same password to get into all of your accounts? If so, you are putting yourself at risk of having your information easily stolen. Not only should you use unique and complicated passwords, but you should also use two-factor identification, which means that you’ll need a password and a code in order to enter sites. This usually involves receiving a text message, telephone call and/or email to verify the first part of your entry. The correct telephone number or email address should already be on file with the institution.
It is also important to make your passwords alphanumeric (a combination of letters and numbers), use special characters if permitted and to use a combination of upper and lower cases letters. Many passwords are case sensitive so this will add another layer of password protection.
Don’t Put All of Your Information on Social Media
Social media usage may be ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put all of your personal information on there. Indeed, when you do post too much on social media, this information can be used to find out information about you that is needed to hack your accounts. For example, if your password reset question is “What was your high school’s mascot?” and you’ve posted that you went to East High in City XYZ, this information is pretty easy for a hacker to discover with a quick online search.
Victim of a data Breach?
If your information has been taken and you are the victim of a security breach, it is important that you act quickly to cancel accounts and contact the IRS if need be. Depending upon the circumstances, you may also be able to bring forth a civil suit. Contact the offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for more details.