While technological advances have made everyday tasks easier, they’ve also increased the vulnerability of consumers’ most sensitive personal data. Electronic financial accounts, healthcare information, and social media profiles can be exposed in just a few clicks by enterprising scammers. In recognition of October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Consumer Affairs and Securities divisions are providing tips to help keep your information safe online.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cybercrimes are becoming increasingly prevalent, more dangerous, and more sophisticated. Complaints about Identity theft, which is one of the most common forms of cybercrime, have doubled between 2010 and 2015, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“Cybercrime is serious and, unfortunately, becoming more commonplace as unscrupulous individuals can swiftly take advantage of unsuspecting consumers,” said TDCI Commissioner and President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Julie Mix McPeak. “We’re advising Tennesseans to go above and beyond during National Cyber Security Awareness Month and take precautions against cybercriminals. If you suspect you have become the victim of a cybercrime, we urge you to report it to the appropriate authorities.”
TDCI share the following tips to help keep your information safe online:
SECURITY STARTS AT HOME
- Your Internet router can be your first line of defense for your home’s Wi-Fi network. Ensure no one is accessing your network and occasionally change the login and password. For enhanced protection, enable encryption, change the router’s default password, and provide guests with guest network access.
- Invest in antivirus and anti-malware software to protect your accounts from the threat of viruses and malware.
- Never send personal information, like a Social Security Number, over email or other electronic communication platforms without encryption.
STAY AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
- Whether you are commuting or sitting in a coffee shop, be aware of who can see the screen on your smartphone or other device or overhear your conversations.
- Never discuss bank account or credit card numbers in a public setting.
- Be wary of credit card skimmers on gas pumps and ATMs. These devices are used by scammers and give them the ability to access your financial account information.
- Memorize your most important passwords and write the others down. Keep this list in a secure, private place.
- If you choose to store this information electronically, make sure to not label the folder or file “passwords.”
- Make passwords strong by using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using multi-word phrases to enhance security.
- If available, use two-factor authentication. This gives an added layer of protection by requiring a second form of verification before allowing access to the account. Common forms of two-factor authentication are physical tokens, fingerprint authentication, or facial recognition.
THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK
- Never click on attachments or links (even those labeled as “unsubscribe”) in an email from an unknown address. It only takes one click to infect your computer and compromise your data.
- Hackers can use URLs that look legitimate, but contain system-infiltrating software. Look for spelling and grammatical errors in domain names and email addresses to avoid falling victim to this scheme.
SECURE YOUR SECURITIES
- Protect your digital wallet like you would physical wallet. Check the account frequently to ensure there are no surprise charges.
- Be wary when investing in digital currency (often referred to as “Crypto-Currency”). Be especially concerned if the investments you are looking at offer guaranteed high-investment returns or if they pressure you to buy immediately.
SHARE WITH CARE
- Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it might affect others.
MONITOR YOUR ACCOUNTS
- If you’ve been compromised, implement a fraud alert or credit freeze with one of the three credit bureaus. This service is free and may be included if credit monitoring is provided post-breach.
About the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance: TDCI protects the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Regulatory Boards, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and TennCare Oversight.
To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to http://verify.tn.gov/.