MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — Evey Owen with AARP Alabama joins us this morning. Here’s a look at what we talked about:
How to stay safe in an insecure cyber-world
For many of us, our lives are increasingly lived online. We connect with family and friends on social media. We work online, and play online. We shop online for everything from coffee creamer to cars. Many of us do much if not all of our financial transactions online.
At the same time, we are constantly hearing of one major data breach after another in which our personal and sensitive information has been compromised. At last count, these breaches had compromised more than two billion records – and that was before the Capital One breach. Our online activities and these data breaches put us all at risk of identity theft and fraud.
How do these cyber scams work?
• Data breaches are security incidences when sensitive, protected or confidential data has been viewed, stolen or used by individuals unauthorized to do so. This can mean your credit card number has been stolen, or your passwords, your health records, your personal contact information, or even your Social Security number.
• Once they have that data, scammers often hold onto it, waiting for the worry to die down, and then they start buying and selling data that’s been compromised.
• The large scale cyber attacks have unfortunately become commonplace, but it’s important to know that they can also come in the form of email attacks, called phishing, appearing to come from a trusted source and asking you to confirm a password or verify personal information.
What are some red flags to look for?
· Bargain-basement prices. Internet security firm Norton says to be on guard if discounts exceed 55 percent.
· Shoddy website design or sloppy English. Real retailers take great care with their online presentation.
· Limited or suspicious contact options — for example, they only have a fill-in contact form, or the customer-service email is a Yahoo or Gmail account, not a corporate one.
· URLs with extraneous words or characters (most stores use only their brand name in web addresses) or unusual domains — for example, .bargain, .app or a foreign domain instead of .com or .net.
What should people do or not do to protect themselves?
· Do pay by credit card. With card transactions, you can dispute questionable charges and withhold payment while your card provider investigates. Liability for fraudulent charges on your card is generally limited to $50, and some providers offer 100 percent purchase protection.
· Place a free security freeze on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.) It is the best way to stop identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
· Establish online access to all of your bank accounts, credit cards and retirement accounts and check them frequently. This enables you to review your accounts regularly to watch for suspicious activity. Plus, if you don’t have online access to your accounts, hackers can set up that access, pretending to be you, and drain those accounts.
· Use a password manager. A lot of us tend to use the same password for more than one account. It’s hard to create strong and unique passwords for each online account and remember them all. One option is to use a password manager app that creates and stores your passwords securely in an online vault.
· Don’t pay by wire transfer, money order or gift card. Sellers that demand these types of payments are scammers, and unlike with credit cards or reputable e-pay services, there’s little recourse to recover your money.
· Don’t enter payment information unless a site’s URL starts with “https://” or the browser window shows a closed padlock. These indicate the site is encrypted and makes it more likely your data is secure.
· Don’t provide more information than a retailer needs. That should be only your billing information and the shipping address.
· Don’t use sites that require you to download software or enter personal information to access coupons or discount codes.
YOU have the power to protect yourself! Start by visiting the AARP Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork – it’s a free resource for everyone, where you will find: information about the latest scams, a scam-tracking map, and sign up for our biweekly Watchdog Alerts.
Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to report a scam or for victim assistance: 1-866-908-3360