How to protect yourself online

October is Cyber Security Month

The digital age has made our lives more convenient, with the ability to shop and manage finances online. However, with these conveniences, new vulnerabilities have been created and you need to learn how to protect yourself online. That’s why you’ve always (always!) got to be vigilant for threats of identity theft and fraud. Rest assured, fraudsters are waiting for the moment you let your guard down to pounce. And the moment you let your guard down, you are effectively giving them an opportunity to defraud you.How to protect yourself online

“Being a victim of any crime is devastating, but being a victim of fraud can cause serious, sometimes irreparable harm to your finances. You don’t have to be a victim though. You can shut the door on those fraudsters simply by committing to protecting yourself every time you are online,” says Jeff Schwartz executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“Being vigilant, learning how to protect yourself online by implementing cyber safety in your daily routine is easy to do and it is an effective way to defend yourself. The key is to not let your efforts lapse,” says Schwartz.

October is Cyber Security Month, so it is an excellent time to revisit some tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

Anti-virus software

Do you have a smoke detector in your home to alert you to danger? Of course you do- because it is an essential safety measure in your home to protect yourself.  You should use the same mentality when it comes to protecting your home computer- and all of the personal information that gets transmitted through it. Wouldn’t you want to be alerted in advance of a threat to your cyber safety?

Make sure that your virus software is current, and put a reminder in your calendar to update it annually.

Your system

Make sure that your system is running optimally. That means installing updates to your operating system as they become available. When it comes to computers, operating systems, software and hardware changes occur frequently, and fraudsters make it their business to stay ahead of the curve.

Reduce the risk by making sure your system is up-to-date, which means that your security systems are up-to-date too.

By the same token, make sure that the firewall in your operating system is switched on.

Wi-Fi

Make sure that your Wi-Fi at home is password protected with a fairly complicated password that involves letters, numbers and characters. Keep hackers out.

When you are using free Wi-Fi in a public place, assume that fraudsters are looking over your shoulder. Never ever do anything in these situations where your personal or financial information will be exposed, like shopping or banking.

Surf smart

Stay away from websites that are untrustworthy. If you are shopping or otherwise divulging information, make sure that the site has security credentialsand make sure that your privacy settings are set to protect you.

Return to sender

Never open emails or attachments from senders that you don’t recognize. If you receive an email from someone you do know, but sounds unusual (e.g. not their usual tone) don’t open attachments in that case either.  They may have been hacked themselves and are now unknowingly forwarding a virus.

Similarly, don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders. They can look very much like legitimate retailers, but are links that harbour a virus. Be smart and learn how to protect yourself online. Go directly to a retailer’s site instead.

Have you been a victim of fraud and are working to put your life back together? We can give you support to get back on your feet.  To get started, call us today at or visit our free online debt analysis.

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