The Internet has made life easier for all of us. However, along with great opportunity comes great responsibility. So many websites require some form of registration, and that puts your personal information at risk. Your data is gold. You must be careful to protect it.
Here are seven signs to indicate you aren’t taking the matter of data security as seriously as you should.
1. You register using real information when it’s unnecessary to do so
You want to be careful about registering under your real name, real birthday and providing real information unless absolutely necessary (such as for purchases). There’s simply no reason to offer any real information to any website just because they ask for it. I’ve created a complete alias, including “junk” email folder, that I use to register for websites where my personal information isn’t necessary to provide.
2. You never change your passwords
We all visit so many websites, and have so many passwords, that they are hard to keep track of. The fact that we manage to memorize certain passwords for certain websites is amazing. The idea that we should then change them up every few months is anathema. It is risky to retain the same password for the same website for too long.
3. You don’t vary your passwords
There is risk in using the same password — or a slight variation of it — for every website. Hackers or others who get ahold of your password know that people don’t like to have a lot of passwords, and may exploit that fact.
4. You ignore data breach warnings
Remember the Target data breach? Remember the “heartbleed” virus? If these stories are big enough to make front-page news, then it’s a good idea to change your passwords for the site or sites where the breach occurred.
5. You never examine your credit card statement
I always give my credit card statements a thorough examination when I receive them. One of the first indications of a data breach will show up with unauthorized charges on credit card statements. You must be able to account for every single charge.
6. You never pull your credit report
This is a huge preventative step you can take. If you’ve had a data breach, there’s a good chance a thief will have attempted to open credit accounts in your name. Your credit report is where they will show up, and where you’ll be able to immediately put alerts on your credit profile to freeze new account openings.
7. You haven’t requested an EMV card
Don’t know what EMV is? Now you do. Many banks are moving to EMV chip technology cards now. Why wait until your expiration date arrives to wait for an EMV card? Call the card issuer, ask if they have moved to EMV, and if so, ask for a new card with EMV.
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