Protect your accounts and reduce your risk

By Carol Kando-Pineda, Federal Trade Commission’s Military Consumer

The internet offers access to a world of savings products and services, as well as investment opportunities. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves.

You can’t control what others do with your personal information, but the Federal Trade Commission and Military Consumer have tips for protecting your computer, your information, and your online files to reduce your risk.

  • Make your password long, strong and complex: at least twelve characters, with three different “character classes” (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols). It’s best to put non-lowercase letters in the middle of your password and avoid common words or phrases.  If it’s tough remembering them, consider password management software.
  • Select security questions where only you know the answer. Find an answer that you will remember (for instance, “watching the Dodgers with my mom”) but is also more complicated than a generic word (“baseball”). Don’t use questions whose answers can be found in public records or online (like your zip code, birthplace, or your mother’s maiden name) or with a limited number of responses that an attacker can easily find or figure out (like the color of your first car).
  • Use the added protection of multi-factor authentication, when it’s available. To log in, you must combine something you know (like a password), with something you have (like a code texted to a mobile phone) or something you are (like a fingerprint).
  • Every time someone asks for your Social Security, credit card, or bank and utility account numbers – whether it’s online or in an email, a text, or call – think about whether you can really trust the request. Never share your Social Security number, address, or phone and account numbers on social networks or publicly accessible sites.
  • Not sure whether someone who called or emailed is an imposter? Hang up or don’t reply – and check them out. Type the company name into your browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service to see if they really contacted you.
  • Lock up documents that show any financial account numbers and shred them before you toss them in the trash.
  • Has your information been compromised in a data breach? Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what your next steps should be, depending on the type of information that was breached.

Are you trying to save money? Let Military Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. We'll keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

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@MilConsumer shares tips for how to protect your finances >> http://bit.ly/2CjHy0V @MilitarySaves

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