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Identity Theft

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

In society today, identity theft has become more accessible because of the Internet. It is more difficult to differentiate between a secure website and a fraudulent website. Online identity theft is quickly becoming one of the most common types of ways you can get your identity stolen. It’s not difficult for a criminal to access your information. The way they do it is through spyware. This can be through a download, an email attachment, or even pop up as a website.

When the spyware gains access to your computer it records inputs or keywords and can access anything you do on your computer. One small click or lack of care on your part can cause you to compromise your identity. All of this sounds pretty frightening, but have no fear! With practice, there are easy ways to protect you from theft on the Internet. Here are some tips to begin with:

  • Keep a close eye on your personal accounts. Check bank statements, email accounts, anything that contains personal information. If there’s an unfamiliar charge or something that looks suspicious, take care of it immediately. 
  • Don’t open emails from unknown senders. If you don’t recognize the email address or subject line do NOT open the email. This is a perfect way for hackers to send spyware to access your accounts. It’s a good idea to keep your email organized to prevent confusion and also delete suspected spam, without opening, immediately.
  • Only download software from sites you trust. Don’t blindly search for a program and download it. Do research on websites if you’re unsure of them. Usually you can find someone who has used it before. When downloading, keep an eye on the file size. Many times, if a file is unusually big, it means there’s something else contained within the file.
  • Look for the padlock when purchasing things online. When buying online, look for qualifications that say that the site is a secure site. Bank sites are most often secure; if you find that yours is not, change banks. When purchasing items online look for the secure closed padlock sign in the lower right hand corner of your browser. This is a sure sign that the site is safe.
  • Don’t use the same password and change it often. There are way too many people that use the same password for each online account. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. For example, let’s say that you sign up for a new account on a shopping website. Unfortunately you get some spyware from that website. Now the hacker that has your login and can use the same info to log into your bank account. If it’s difficult to remember so many passwords, come up with a formula specific to you that allow you to generate a password on each site.
  •  Install trusted security software on your computer. It is a good idea to install an anti-virus and anti-spyware on your computer. This will help catch the websites that are not secure, as well as protect your computer and information if there is a virus. It is also very helpful for a family computer, as kids are more likely to click on something suspicious.

Bottom line, use your best judgement when it comes to your online activity, and if something doesn't seem right, report it immediately. To learn more about the measures we take to safeguard your accounts at Northwest Georgia Bank, please contact us.

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