Protecting your family’s financial information from cyber criminals is an important task, especially when everyone in your home is online regularly. From identity and password protection to wireless network security, there are a number of ways digital threats can breach your Internet-surfing family. With protecting your digital domain in mind, here are seven ways to ensure your family is safe from online thieves.
1. Make Passwords a Priority
The first line of defense for protecting your family’s financial information online is the almighty password. But just like there are ways to create a strong password, there are also a number of ways to create a weak password that won’t standup to online thieves.
To avoid this, make sure everyone in your family uses case-sensitive passwords that include both numbers and symbols. Likewise, encourage your family to use separate passwords for each of their online accounts, especially any accounts with financial information on file. Finally, ensure everyone memorizes their unique passwords as opposed to writing them down or storing them on a mobile device.
2. Take Advantage of Credit Reports
Running credit reports for you and your family members once a year is a great way to monitor finances and discover any suspicious activity. Every 12 months, the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, offer free credit reports, which is a cost-effective way to stay on top of your family’s financial standing and avoid online threats.
3. Look for Website Encryption
Whether you use the Internet to pay your bills or to make online purchases, it’s important to ensure the websites you visit are encrypted. An encrypted website usually starts with “https” and features a padlock icon in the browser.
This type of online protection is crucial when it comes to making purchases or setting up accounts that require your personal information. So look for the padlock and make sure everyone in your household does the same because an unencrypted website is a gateway for online thieves.
4. Monitor Your Online Accounts
Between social media and online retailers, it’s probably safe to say just about everyone in your household has their personal information stored online in some form or another. And when it comes to protecting your family from identity theft, nothing works better than consistently monitoring everyone’s online accounts.
Basic account monitoring means making sure your family’s active online accounts are password protected, secure, and free from suspicious activity. In addition, it’s important to remind the social media users in your home not to share too much personal information through their accounts, as this could trigger identity theft.
5. Use Debit Cards Wisely
Online shopping is the new norm, but that doesn’t mean you should take a relaxed approach to making purchases over the Internet. If you or others in your household shop online regularly, keep in mind that credit cards are much safer than debit cards.
Websites generally offer the same encryption and security standards regardless of the form of payment. But security breaches do happen, and if your financial information is compromised, credit card companies tend to have better fraud protection standards than your bank.
6. Inform Your Family About Scams
Online thieves are finding new ways to scam online users, which is why it’s more important than ever to inform your family on the latest scamming attempts. From phishing emails to suspicious friend requests via social media, digital scams are everywhere.
Make sure your family knows the difference between a legitimate company email and a fraudulent one. Signs of phishing scams include emails asking for personal information, like social security numbers, or emails that require the viewer to click on an unknown link.
7. Protect Your Wireless Network
From laptops to tablets to smartphones, your home’s wireless network is probably a busy one. To better protect your family’s online activity while at home, password protecting your wireless router is key.
You should follow the same password rules above, including making sure everyone commits the password to memory. In addition, don’t use anything that’s too obvious, like your family pet’s name or your street address.
By keeping in mind the pointers above, you’ll ensure your family is safe and secure from online thieves.