Now is the time for a cybersecurity check. Do not wait! There’s a lot riding on your laptop. It’s probably the only hard drive you save things to, and it just accumulates information as you go about your life. It would be a very valuable asset for fraudsters and scammers. So how can you protect yourself from intrusions?
Cybersecurity Check Now
You should report any fraud to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Any kind of civil or criminal case is going to require a police report, and the sooner you report it, the better. Once you’ve taken care of it on the local level, you can go to identitytheft.gov, where you can create a different report. As for involving the police, cyber crime is still their jurisdiction — although I’ve never resolved anything that way. No disrespect to the police, but they’re so busy with other more serious crimes that they put identity theft on the back burner — however, you still need to do that, even though I wouldn’t expect results.
I had a client years ago who had problems with fraudulent activity on several of his accounts. It took four years to close the case and get the money back. We came to learn that a scammer had been fraudulently opening credit cards in my client’s name and charged $185,000 in one week! The client hadn’t been paying attention to any messages he was getting from the credit card companies, until we stepped in.
Change all of your passwords. Use a password manager to generate gobbledygook passwords for you, and no human will ever break them. You’ll never be able to remember them yourself but, at least with LastPass, you only have to remember one password.
Facebook quizzes are a means to find out the answers to your security questions. Most people know that Facebook is not a great steward of its users’ privacy, but many are shocked to find out just how much information they give away voluntarily. Case in point: that quiz your Auntie sent you over Messenger. It’s curious that in order to find out which King of England you were in a past life, you have to enter the name of your elementary school, isn’t it?
More Items for Your Cybersecurity Check
Never give the right answers to security questions. Anybody can find out my mother’s maiden name or where I went to school. That’s why, for every website I visit, I make up new answers to the security questions. I write the fake answers down and keep them in a special place in my LastPass password manager.
If you had any doubt as to how important a secure password is, I have a story for you. I was once at a meeting where an IT guy claimed he could find out our email passwords just from the address. I volunteered my email, and he came up with this one password that I used for years.
Were you part of the Equifax breach? In July of 2017, credit reporting agency Equifax experienced a massive data breach. If you have been a victim, you may qualify to be part of a class action. Equifax will also monitor your credit for free, for a year. For free credit monitoring, you will get an activation code with instructions by email. On its website, the FTC has a sample letter that’ll help you know what to say when you’re writing a letter to the credit reporting agencies.
Never feel ashamed for getting scammed. I think a lot of people feel bad when they realize they have been scammed. Embarrassment and shame lead to people thinking that they need to pay down fraudulent charges just to get them off their credit report — but that’s the worst thing to do. Credit card companies will view that as an admission that the charges are legitimate. Sometimes our clients come to us to ask us for help — which is exactly what we want them to do.
If this seems like a lot to do, consider getting help. Judith Heft & Associates can help you get your cyber operations under control, or at least get you a great referral to an IT person. I know I’m constantly sending my IT guy emails that look fishy — and 99% of the time he tells me to flush them.