Thursday, March 14, 2013

Six Tricks to Play it Safe

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union the safety of our Members and our community is extremely important to us.  When online, always take extra caution, especially when providing vulnerable information, like card numbers, full names, addresses etc. (most often needed for online shopping).  Here are six tricks to play it safe online …

1. If it doesn’t look ‘legit’, it’s not -
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a particular website is legitimate or not, but if you’re questioning it – it’s better to err on the side of caution.  If you’re not sure, look for some ‘red flags’ like automatic pop-up windows, a strange address, or amateur design and layout.  If any of these occur – do yourself and your computer a favor, and exit the site!

2. Look for the ‘S’ - and Identity Theft 911 founder, Adam Levin, recommends you look for the ‘S’ in the “https” portion of the web address.  Not that all http addresses are bad news, but the ‘S’ stands for “secure”; better safe than sorry! 

3. Keep it Current -
Always update your anti-virus software when necessary! This is an extra shield for when you’re scouting out good deals and perusing the web. This also applies to your cell phone lock codes and passwords. 
Public Wi-Fi is great, but you never know who else is
 using it, and for not-so-good reasons.

4. Passwords are Key –
Don’t be afraid to change your passwords regularly (as long as you’ve got a method of remembering them) so that your accounts aren't easily accessible to outside sources.  Don’t stick to simple passwords or use any sort of private information within them.  Some methods we suggest are using both uppercase and lowercase letters, adding numbers and symbols, and avoid using full or popular words.

5. Use ID Theft Protection –
There are many services offered with various accounts (some for free!) that can help you protect your money and your identity.  Many experts suggest using a credit card or pay card because it tends to be easier to see and trace ‘erroneous charges’.  Keep an eye on your statements and don’t overlook anything that’s questionable.

6. Be Social Media Safe –
Just like cycling through passwords can keep accounts fresh and safe, so can avoiding questionable contacts.  If a Facebook post or Tweet looks fishy and out of the ordinary for a friend or business – avoid it.  We’re not saying you have to ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ that person or brand, but be aware that hackers can send things attempting to look as legitimate as possible. “BitDefender recommends treating messages from strangers as spam – just ignore them” (MSN Money).  Be as social as you want, but be safe while doing it!

Because we know time spent ‘surfing the web’ is always increasing, we always encourage awareness and safety on the internet. We are #PeopleHelpingPeople.

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