Beware: Security experts say that 2-in-5 of us will click on a scammer’s link this year, raising our risk for identity theft. So, here’s how to protect yourself, courtesy of financial expert Stacey Bradford:
- Password protect your phone! That’s your first line of defense if your phone gets lost or stolen.
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware software. Androids are especially vulnerable because most of their apps aren’t screened for malicious software. A one-year subscription to McAfee Mobile Security is $30.
- Attention iPhone users: Download the free Find My iPhone app. It allows you to lock your device, track it down, and even wipe your data, remotely.
- Don’t manage your money on your phone. There’s no way to know whether your phone has been compromised, so it’s better to use your computer, or go to the bank.
- Beware of free Wi-Fi – like at airports or coffee shops. Scammers often sit near hotspots; cherry-picking passwords sent over unsecured Wi-Fi connections. And once someone hacks your email, they have access to everything.
- Protect your Twitter and Facebook pages. Because if you posted personal information – like your birthday or hometown – hackers may be able to figure out the answers to your online security questions. Then, they simply change the passwords for your email and bank accounts, and start stealing your money.
So, is there anything you can do on your smartphone safely? Our expert says yes!
- It’s okay to check online news sites, magazines, and newspapers. But using the same password for everything is risky. So, create a unique user ID and password for each website.
- Music downloads are probably safe, too – as long as you’re using a factory-installed app like iTunes.
- It’s safe to use your GPS. Most identity thieves don’t bother to track people down through geo-tagging. But stalkers do. If you’re worried, turn off your GPS.