5 ways to protect your personal information
Updated: Mar 17
When it comes to things that paranoids me, identity theft and fraudsters steal my personal information to open bank accounts in my name and later finding out I have thousands of dollars of debt, is on top of my list.
Especially in this modern world we live in, where a vast majority of our communications (text, email, phone, chats) and transactions are done electronically, our personal information is more vulnerable than ever to cyber threats.
Paranoia, you say. Ask my wife; whenever anyone asks me to send my personal information over email or text that includes my social security number, financial account numbers, and. passwords, I instantly get goosebumps. The idea of my sensitive data roaming around the internet ready to be intercepted by hackers, no thank you! For that reason, I take tremendous caution when dealing with and sharing my personal information.
Here are five ways to protect your personal information in the modern age.
1. Strong passwords
The easiest way to protecting your personal information is having a strong password for all your accounts. Time-saving passwords like, "asdf1234", is not a strong password and predictable. Many companies are prioritizing cyber threats and have implemented security internally and externally. If you noticed, password requirements have become more stringent in recent years.
2. Multi-level authentication (2-factor verification)
In addition to a strong password, setting up multi-level authentication is another layer of security. 2-factor verification is an additional step to verify the account holder by sending a random one-time code to your email or phone. You would then enter this one-time code to confirm the login. I highly suggest using the 2-factor verification if available.
3. Encrypted emails
An encrypted email converts the plain text inside the email into scrambled cipher text. The email recipient would need to be authenticated with a private key or password to view the encrypted message. The objective is to protect the content and only available to the intended recipient. Avoid sending any non-public information (NPI) unless the email is encrypted via a secured web portal.
4. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPN allows you to establish a secure connection when using public internet (Wi-Fi). VPN's should be considered by an individual that likes to work at their local coffee shop, library, airport, or anywhere you connect to a public Wi-Fi and if working with sensitive data. Most public Wi-Fi is connected to unsecured internet servers, resulting in hackers having gaining access to data that flows through the shared connection.
5. Consider, monitor, and update
The final tip is to consider implementing these tips to protect your personal information and consistently monitoring your credit score for unusual activity. When applying for a credit card or any type of loan, your social security number is required to run a credit check, resulting in your credit activity getting updated. If you notice any unusual activity, immediately take action by alerting the relevant credit bureaus. Setting up text alerts for transactions on your debit and credit card is a way to monitor your bank transactions for suspicious activity. Lastly, be active and continuously update your passwords for all your accounts. Using a secure and reliable password manager is an easy way to keep track of all of them.
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