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Keeping Your Sensitive Information Safe and Sound

Lock up your personal data with these vital tips.

Man Laptop Cellphone Deck
Protecting Your Identity.

Have you ever noticed that some websites have ads tailored to your tastes? Or that certain search engines remember what you were looking for a year ago? While it may be shocking to realize the internet knows your preference in undergarments, keep in mind there are steps you can take that may help keep your personal data a little more private.

It's easy to slip into oversharing when you're online. You may post everything from your location to your latest selfie to your future plans on the internet regularly. One solid idea for safeguarding your data is to be conscientious about the amount and kind of personal information you broadcast. Criminals aren't just interested in your credit card or social security number. They can also use information like birthdate or vacation plans to perpetrate a theft. Keeping it basic with your social media information can help protect your data and your identity.

The following are terrible passwords:

  • 123456
  • password
  • admin

In fact, each recently made a list of the 25 most common passwords, making them extremely susceptible to breaches. If you have any of the above passwords, prioritize making a change as soon as possible. When creating a password, the more complex the better. Just make sure you will be able remember it! Generating a password that is at least eight characters long with diverse symbols, numbers, capital and lower-case letters is ideal. Even putting together random words with underscores to act as spaces works. For example, “unicorns_gym_pink” would be difficult for an identity thief to guess Also, try to use different passwords for different accounts, making sure you have a method to remembering all your account passwords. Lastly, updating your passwords every month or so will help to keep your personal data safe as well.

If you plan on supplying your credit card information for any reason, from paying bills to shopping online, always make sure you're on a secure website. You can spot a website with enhanced security features by the lock icon to the left of the site's address. Another way to identify a secure website is via the address itself. Typically, websites that begin with https (“Hyper Text Transfer Protocol”, with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)) are your safest bet. With this type of website, your data is encrypted. This means any third party trying to steal your personal data will only see gibberish.

Signing up for a financial management tool like SavvyMoney® allows you to frequently check your credit scores and other financial information to stay up-to-date on your accounts. SavvyMoney lets you view your information and check for intrusions. If you see any major changes in your credit score (that you know didn't result from your own actions) report it as quickly as possible. Remember that federal law does protect you to a certain extent when it comes to ATM, debit and credit card loss or fraudulent charges/ transfers. Checking the loss-prevention policy of your financial institution and credit card provider can also help protect you.

There is no guarantee that any of these measures will make your personal information 100% safe. However, these steps can greatly reduce the risk of having your important details exposed.

This article was written by Jean Chatzky originally for SavvyMoney®.