Image of woman holding cell phone and typing on a computer, with illustration of lock over the phone.

“Privacy is one of the biggest problems in this new electronic age.”

– Andy Grove, former Intel CEO

 

No truer words could have ever been spoken. This is the 21st Century, and one of the most influential inventions of modern times is the internet. Most of us can’t even picture what our lives would be like without it.

We’ve entered an age of “friending” people you don’t know, interacting with complete strangers, and sharing private information that just a few years ago we kept closely guarded. Google yourself, and you’ll find numerous websites containing your name, address, phone numbers, and lists of people associated with you – all just waiting to be purchased with a few, simple keystrokes.

How is this possible? You leave behind a digital footprint every time you’re online. Everything made public on social media networks can carry huge risks. Every piece of personal information you share with an app is vulnerable. Every electronic transaction puts you at risk – online and in stores.

Cybercriminals crawl your social networking and email accounts to collect personal information that will help them access your financial accounts for their own personal use or to sell the information to other criminals. Account take-over fraud is on the rise, topping $2.3 billion in losses in 2016 alone. Furthermore, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

Staying ahead of the thieves will prevent unpleasant surprises and consequences. PC Magazine offers ten of their easy and effective ways to protect you from identity theft. Check them out here.  

Another article teeming with valuable information is by McAfee, a leader in cybersecurity. They offer up suggestions on how to stay safe while online. Their top ten list covers most everything you need to know about being informed and what security measures that will help prevent information and identity theft. 

Understanding what identity theft is and how to guard against it is just the beginning. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., an information services company, does an excellent job of defining this type of fraud, and explains how to recognize it before it takes control of your life. Here you’ll find the most common types of identity theft. Some might even surprise you. 

Most financial companies choose how they share your personal information. Federal law gives you the right to limit some, but not all, sharing. Federal law also requires they tell you how they collect, share, and protect your personal information. Protecting your personal information from unauthorized access and use remains one of VacationLand Federal Credit Union’s top priorities. We use security measures that comply with federal law. These measures include computer safeguards and secured files and buildings. Click here to view a copy of our privacy policy.

The internet contains valuable information; just about anything you can imagine, and it’s here to stay. Remember to think beforehand about what you are posting, so you don’t regret it later. Keeping “secrets” private and incorporating some, or all, of these worthwhile tips will help you stay safe online and protect you, and your information, from criminals.