PROTECTING YOUR PRIVACY
KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR PRIVATE INFORMATION
E-mail, the Internet, automated teller machines,
computer banking, long distance carriers, even credit cards make our lives more
efficient. However, as our lives become more integrated with technology, keeping
our private information confidential becomes more difficult. Electronic
transactions can leave you vulnerable to fraud and other
crimes. Following a few simple tips can help your code from being cracked.
A Word on passwords
Whether you are on the internet or an
online banking program, you are often required to use a password. The worse
passwords to use are the ones that come to mind fast-name, spouses names, maiden
name, pets, children name, even street addresses, etc. The best passwords mix
numbers with upper and lower case letters. A password that is not found in the
dictionary is even better. There are programs that will try every word in the
dictionary in an effort to crack your security.
The weakest link in a security system is
the human element. The fewer people who have access to your codes and passwords
the better. Avoid breaks in security by
Changing passwords regularly.
Memorizing your password. If you have several
set up a system of remembering them. If you do write down the password, keep
it at home or hidden at work. Do not write your password on a post it note
and stick it in your monitor or hard drive.,
Set up a special account or set aside a different
computer at work for temporary help and other unauthorized users.
If you have the option of letting your
computer or a web site remember a password for you, do not use it. Anyone
who uses your machine will have automatic access to information that is
Shopping in Cyberspace
Ordering merchandise from
the Internet is the trend of the future. You can prevent problems before they
Doing business with companies you know and
trust. If you have not heard of the company before, research it or ask for a
paper catalog before you decide to order electronically. Check with your
stated consumer protection agency on whether the company is licensed or registered.
Fraudulent companies can appear and disappear very quickly in cyberspace.
Understand the offer. Look carefully at the
products or services the company is offering. Be sure you know what is being
sold, the quality being specified, the total price, the delivery date, the
return policy and cancellation policy, and all the terms of any guarantee
Use a secure browser that will encrypt
or scramble purchase information. If there is no encryption software
consider calling the company's 800 number, faxing your order, or paying with
Never give a bank account or credit card
number or other personal information to anyone you do not know or have not
checked out. And do not provide information that is not necessary to make a
purchase. Even with partial information, con artist can make unauthorized
charges or take money from your account. If you have an even choice between
using your credit card and mailing cash, check, money order, use a credit
card. You can always dispute fraudulent credit card charges but you can not
get your cash back.
Using ATMs, Long Distance Phone Cards
Services, and Credit cards
Protect your personal
identification number (PIN)
The PIN is one method used by banks and phone
companied to protect your account from unauthorized access. A PIN is a confidential
code issued to the cardholder to permit access to that account. Your PIN
number should be memorized, secured and not given out to anyone, not even
family members or bank employees. The fewer people who have access to your
PIN the better.
Never write your PIN on ATM or long distance
calling cards. Do not wrote your PIN on a piece of paper and place it in
your wallet. If your wallet and card are lost or stolen, someone will have everything
they need to remove funds from your account, make unauthorized debit
purchases, or run up your long distance bill.
Protect Your Privacy and the Privacy of Others
Protecting Your ATM Cards
An ATM card should be treated as thought it
were cash. Avoid providing card and account information to anyone over the
When making a cash withdrawal at an ATM, immediately
remove the cash as soon as the machine releases it. Put the cash in your
pocket and wait until you are in a secure location before counting it. Never
use an ATM in an isolated area or where people are loitering.
Be sure to keep your receipt to record
transactions and match them against monthly statements. Dishonest people can
use your receipt to get your account number. Never leave the receipt at the
Protect your Credit Cards
Only give your credit card account number to
make sure a purchase or reservation you have initiated. Abs never give this
information over a cellular phone.
Never give your credit card to someone else
to use on your behalf.
Watch your credit card after giving it to the
store clerks to protect against extra imprints being made.
Destroy all carbons. Do not discard into the
trash can at the purchase counter. Keep charge slips in a safe
Protect your purse or wallet, especially when
traveling or in crowded conditions.
Save all receipts and compare them to your
monthly statement. Report any discrepancies immediately.
Keep a master list in a secure place at home
with all account numbers and phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen
Lost or Stolen Cards
Crime can be random. But there are steps that limit your chances of becoming a victim. Being aware that
the threat of a crime-and alert to what you can do to prevent it-will go a long
way toward making your electronic transactions safe and private.