Can we get serious for a second? Hard to believe with me, I know!
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a bit of a computer nerd. You and I are new friends, so I’d like to pass along some of my most valuable internet-safety tips. I GUARANTEE you’ll read this list and go, “My mom does that sh*t!” I know mine does!
Don’t be an easy target to internet thieves. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
Bess’s Top 10 Online Safety Must-Dos
- Choose strong passwords! And do NOT use the same passwords across websites, especially for sensitive information like online banking, shopping, etc. To add a double layer of protection, activate two-factor authentication to prevent anyone from accessing your accounts.
I know passwords are a drag, but there’s a reason this is in the #1 spot. Ever seen news about data leaks? Guess what? If you’re password gets leaked by your grocery store and it’s the same one you use for bank account…bye bye, rent money!
Keep personal information on social media to a minimum. Less is best, especially on the internet where everything lives forever. Don’t post where you live, work, or even where you went to college to public audiences. It’s information no one needs to know, especially hackers.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards for online purchases. Even seemingly secure sites may fall victim to information hacks, so it’s better to be cautious than regretful.
Beware of fake news. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” is good advice, particularly when you haven’t fact-checked it. And please, for the love of everything good and pure, PLEASE fact check before you hit “share”
Beware of fake people! Anyone can create a social media account with any picture they find online. They will sound soooo believable, but a lot of times they just want to take advantage of your good nature. Also, if you’ve ever seen someone you know suddenly have a new Facebook account, it might be an imposter trying to dupe you! Always verify (offline, when possible) that your real friend has a new account.
Avoid phishing scams (via email and text). Delete spam from people and organizations you do not recognize. Don’t open messages or click hyperlinks from sources you don’t recognize.
NEVER send money to people you don’t know without verifying. Seems like a no brainer, right? But hear me out: LOTS of good folks are getting duped by scammers, and they are GOOD. They suck you in via online chats (over time) to make you trust them. The next thing you know, they need money because their kid is sick, or their car broke down, etc… So VERIFY! VERIFY! VERIFY! This goes for online fundraisers too. Anyone can create a GoFundMe. And these things pop up like CrAzY around disasters. Even verify offline before you send money online to peeps you do know. Remember, real accounts are easily duplicated by scammers!
Don’t allow all your applications to “Share Your Location.” If apps can use this data to track you, people certainly can too. If you use this service, do so only with friends you know and trust.
Only log into secure Wi-Fi. Avoid connecting to public networks in high-traffic areas like airports or cafes because you may unwittingly give a scammer access to your private information. Or worse, you may have malware installed.
- Don’t advertise that you’re on vacation (aka your house is unoccupied) on social media. Only tell people who need-to-know like a relative or neighbor when you’re away on a trip so they can be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior.
I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or need more advice, just holla! Or drop me a line in comments. 😉