On Your Computer

Basic Tips

  • Install virus protection software, patches for your operating system.
  • These all need to be updated regularly with the most up to date security features.
  • Do not open files sent to you by strangers, or click on hyperlinks or download programs from people you don’t know.
  • Opening a file could expose your system to malware such as a virus, spyware, worm, Botnet, or Trojan; which could capture your passwords or any other information as you type it into the keyboard.
  • Use a firewall program to stop uninvited access to your computer.
  • Without it, "crackers" can take over your computer, access the personal information stored on it, and use it to commit crimes.

Use a Secure Browser

  • Software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet; to guard your online transactions.
  • Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.
  • When submitting information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser’s status bar, and "https" in the address line, to be sure your information is secure during transmission.
  • Try not to store financial information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you do, use a strong password a combination of letters, (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, delete all the personal information it had stored.
  • Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive. Deleting files using the keyboard or mouse commands or reformatting your hard drive may not be enough because the files may stay on the computer’s hard drive, where they may be retrieved easily.

Look for Website Privacy Policies

They should answer questions about maintaining accuracy, access, security, and control of personal information collected by the site, how the information will be used, and whether it will be provided to third parties. If you don’t see a privacy policy - or if you can’t understand it - consider doing business elsewhere.

Use Unique or Unpredictable Passwords

Place unidentifiable passwords on all of your accounts - your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.