Protecting Your Information Online

Reduce the risk of having your identity stolen by protecting your personal information online. 

In 2020, the number of identity theft cases skyrocketed to over 1.3 million — a 113% increase from 650,000 cases reported in 2019. This trend might be due to the trillions of federal dollars being offered to aid citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers are stealing victims' information to receive government benefits like unemployment.

Use the following tips to ensure that your personal information is staying private.

Keep your personal information secure offline

Lock up your financial records in a safe place at home. In addition, make sure your wallet and purse are in a safe place at work — considering storing it in a drawer that can be locked. Keep your information secure from roommates and people entering your home. 

Make sure you aren’t oversharing your information. If a business, your workplace, a doctor’s office, or your child’s school asks for your information, make sure you confirm that it’s for a legitimate reason. 

Make sure to shred receipts, personal mail, expired credit cards, bank statements, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer. 

Keep your personal information secure online

Be alert to impersonators. Don’t give out your personal information over the phone, through email, or online unless you’re certain that you know who you’re talking to. Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails, or responding to suspicious requests. Familiarize yourself with common scams relating to COVID-19, gift cards, and more

If you are disposing of your computer or mobile device, make sure you wipe it clean of any personal information it may be storing. 

Be creative with your passwords. It is best practice to use a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols to make them strong. Then, if you’re keeping record of them, make sure it’s encrypted and safe. 

Securing your social security number

Keep your social security number in a safe place like a locked file cabinet or safe; do not carry it with you in your wallet. Don’t share your social security number with just anyone, make sure to check why someone needs it, how it will be used, how they will protect it, and what happens if you don’t share the number. 

Keep your devices secure

Use security software like anti-virus, anti-spyware and a firewall to protect your devices. Also make sure that they are up-to-date! 

Be wise about using public WiFi in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place. If you’re entering personal information on websites on these networks, you may not be protected.

For financial information, make sure to uncheck the “automatically login” box. That way, if your laptop is stolen, it will be harder for a thief to get into your account. 

Lastly, read privacy policies. Although this can be tedious, they will tell you how a site maintains accuracy, access, security, and control of the personal information it collects, how that information is used, and if that information is allowed to be provided to third parties. If you can’t find or don’t understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere. 

Southland Credit Union cares about your online security. Stay up-to-date with how to protect your personal information by visiting our Southland News page. There you will find articles on security information, financial tips, Southland updates and more.