Computer Tips to Protect You and Your Family

These computer tips could save you from a case of identity theft

Identity theft and computer tips go hand in hand. Sure, there are many methods of stealing someone's identity -- but online is the easiest and most common. That being the case you have to keep your eyes open wide and remember that as private as your computer feels, it's just like a window into your home: only as secure as you make it.

In fact, a window is exactly what your computer can be -- and without computer security tips, it could be a sliding window standing wide open with a sign that says 'come on in.' So if you want to protect yourself and your financial information from identity theft, take these computer tips to heart!

Helpful computer security tips

1. Watch for your computer suddenly slowing down or working less efficiently. This can be a sign of a computer virus, which could easily hack through your entire system.

2. Enter web addresses yourself -- don't click on links, especially those in emails. A common phishing method involves sending you a great link which, once you click on it, either downloads a file, harvests information, or redirects you to a fake site that tricks you into entering personal info.

3. Read about common phishing scams and stay up to date. Treat all emails with healthy suspicion, even if they seem to come from close friends. Contact people personally on the phone before you reply to any email requesting personal information.

4. If you want to phone someone to confirm an email, look up their phone number directly -- don't go with the number they include in the email. Sometimes thieves will claim to be a financial institution and give you their phone number. Call your bank, creditor, etc. directly if you think an email may be genuine.

5. Change your passwords. Don't use easily predictable passwords and don't use the same password for every website. I know it can get complicated after a while, remembering all of those passwords, but this is an incredibly important computer tip. Otherwise, if a thief cracks one password, they crack them all.

6. Watch your bank account and credit card statements carefully. If you find unexplained charges, even if they're very small, immediately contact your financial institution. If this continues, consider putting a fraud alert on your cards. Small thefts are still thefts, and sometimes thieves take small amounts in preparation for taking larger amounts later on.

Computer safety is one of the most important things we can teach ourselves and our families in these days of rampant fraud. It's not enough to follow these computer tips yourself: you need to make sure everyone in your family, especially people who might not be as familiar with computer scams (elderly people or children, for example) are aware of the dangers.

Create computer rules for your family and enforce them strictly -- and keep them yourself, too. It may seem like a pain, but these computer tips could keep you from losing your life's savings.

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