Scams abound as of late, with personalized spam messages containing full names. Fraudsters are getting smarter, and while officials are working to protect your privacy, you can take steps now to secure sensitive data.
While these tips are no guarantee that you can live life unscathed by scams, it will definitely make hacking or scamming you harder, and extra time is always good for your accounts and privacy.
Here are ways to secure your accounts and data:
Don’t click on links
It’s the golden rule of avoiding scams by now—whatever you do, don’t click on any link. These could lead you to sites that extract your data either through a required sign-up or a software download that invades your computer or device.
To combat scammers, banks and e-wallets have removed links from their messages to users. Banks often remind clients that they will never send these links and that transactions should only be made through official channels.
That e-mail or text might look believable, but it’s best to leave it as it is, block the sender or text, and delete the message. You can also report it to your bank.
MORE ON LINKS: Now You Know: Banks Never Send Clickable Links via Text, Email
Change passwords often
Entering your password from high school could be second nature now, but the ease you get from fast typing could be sacrificing your security, especially if you use the same password for all your accounts. Change it up, and do your best to remember.
Most accounts won’t require you to change passwords, but it’s best to change it once every six months, or at least once a year. Include at least one capital letter, one number, and one special symbol, if the platform allows. The longer and more complicated, the harder and longer it takes to hack into.
Don’t be predictable. Words like ‘letmein’ and ‘password’ are easily guessed, so go for something more personal and unconventional.
Refresh those security questions
So let’s say they’re asking for the street you live on, or your mother’s maiden name. If you can, change the security questions often, ideally with answers only you know. If you can input a personalized question, that’s even better.
Passwords are required for most registered accounts, but most sites, especially social media platforms that house lots of data, have two-factor authentication in place to beef up defense.
On top of your usual password, you’ll usually be sent a notification or link you have to click either via text or e-mail. Only after clicking or tapping will you be allowed to log in.
Some apps will require you to use randomly generated pins from third-party authenticator apps which generate random codes every 30 seconds to prevent fraud.
ALSO READ: How to Turn On Two-Factor Authentication, Avoid Getting Hacked
A one-time pin, or OTPs, are a randomly generated string of numbers texted to your mobile device that you must input before a transaction pushes through.
Banks, payment facilities, and e-wallets will often text you an OTP for every transaction, which is valid from anywhere from 10 minutes up to an hour.
Most services and payment channels send OTPs by default, but if you’re asked by an app or platform that deals with money whether you want to enable it, it’s best to opt in as an added layer of security.
The OTP is usually the last layer of defense for fraudsters, as the wrong OTP or lack of one can prevent a transaction from pushing through. Never give it out to anyone, not even texters, callers, or customer services representatives posing as legitimate bank employees.
You might think no one’s watching you, but someone could be looking at the pattern you trace on your phone screen. If your phone has Face ID or fingerprint scans, use these to unlock your phone.
The latest operating systems for smartphones also enable you to use Face ID even with a face mask on.
Ignore and block
Some of these scammers may be testing which numbers are more susceptible to scams depending on whether or not they reply. Choose to ignore.
Spam messages can plague anyone and it’s so easy to delete, but don’t forget to block too. At any point in time, the same numbers used to text you can be used to send more spam messages or shoot you a call—situations you want to avoid.
Unlink your cards and bank accounts
Checking out during the monthly e-commerce sales is a breeze when your money accounts are linked, but don’t let them sit connected indefinitely. After the sale, unlink the accounts and relink them closer to the date of the sale to prevent scammers from accessing data when you least expect it.
Aside from online shops, fraudsters may also access your card information via browser, so unlink those too.
You might say it’s secure, but you can never be too careful about these things.
Shred that waybill
The arrival of an online order merits celebration, just don’t forget to shred the waybill containing all your important information right after opening it.
Waybills have your name, mobile number, and address down to the post code—all data scammers would drool over. Once you’ve received your package, shred the waybill or cover it up with black marker.
There are also stamps that can cover it up, or liquid erasers that melt the print away on heat-activated printer paper.
ALSO READ: Package Arrived? Shred That Shipping Label to Protect Your Data