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Protecting Online Accounts

As the number of activities you conduct online increases, so do the chances your online accounts may be compromised by persons who want access to your personal information. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and ensure your personal information does not fall into the wrong hands.

Steps to Protect Your Online Accounts

1. Create Strong Passwords

The more difficult the password, the harder it is for someone to gain access to your account. Use a mixture of numbers and letters as well as both upper and lowercase letters.

2. Change Passwords Often

By changing your passwords on a frequent basis, you decrease the likelihood that someone else can gain access to your account.

3. Use Different Passwords Across Websites

If you use the same username and password combination for multiple websites, chances are that if someone gets your information for one website, they will be able to access your other accounts, which increases the risk of your personal information being compromised.

  • If you are notified by one company that your account has been accessed, and you have used the same username/password combination on other websites, you should change them all immediately.

4. Check Your Credit Card Charges

Be vigilant about ensuring all your charges are legitimate. If you've stored credit card information in an account and someone is able to log in, they may be able to make purchases using your financial information. If you see any fraudulent charges, contact your credit card or bank and the retailer through which the order was placed to have the charges removed and, of course, change your log-in information on that account.

  • You may also want to delete credit card information from your accounts to limit the possibility of fraudulent charges being made.

5. Action Items After an Unauthorized Access to an Online Account Breach

Not only should you change your passwords, but if the site has security questions, change those, too. Also, validate the personal information in your account is correct and hasn't been changed by someone else.

6. Use Anti-Virus Software

These programs will help prevent exposing your computer to viruses which in turn may allow others to access your personal information both on your computer and on websites.

7. Be on the Lookout for Phishing and Smishing Scams

Phishing scams arrive in your e-mail, while smishing scams come to you in text messages.

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