Post by: Valley Financial Group and Billy Wolfe Jr.
It seems like our entire lives have been digitized. Everything that anyone could ever want or need to know about us is out there, somewhere, waiting to be accessed. This is why it is so very important to make sure that your identity, information and finances are properly secured to prevent a catastrophe such as the one we have just witnessed. For those readers who do not know, Equifax is a company that monitors the financial dealings of all adult Americans in order to judge the exact risk attached to lending them money. On July 29th, Equifax became aware of a security breach to their network, releasing the identity information of 143 million Americans, almost the entire adult population. They did not release their findings until almost a month later, and the chaos has been whirling ever since.
Millions of Americans are asking the questions, "Am I safe? Who has my information? What do I do now?", but the most important question being asked is "How do I protect myself?.” It is imperative for people nationwide, be they computer experts or technologically challenged, to ensure that their identity and financial well-being is protected online to the best of their ability.
The first step, especially after a fiasco such as the one described, is to closely monitor your credit reports, cards, and check to see if any loans had been taken out in your name. The next few tips apply to general internet safety, and even though they may seem obvious to some, are vital to protecting your accounts and information. Easy things, such as having strong passwords, each one unique for its account, could mean the difference between having a hacked social media account and having your identity and financial information stolen. Making sure your computer's anti-virus software is up to date is another seemingly trivial thing that could save your information.
For all those online shoppers out there, be sure of the website's authenticity before typing in your card number and personal information. Don't reveal anything too personal or give away any private information on social media, even if you think only your "followers" or "friends" can see it. But perhaps the most obvious, the simplest, and definitely the most important of these is to just be smart on the internet, to trust your gut when something seems a little off, and to be careful just where or to who you give out your information.
Like we said, the world is becoming digital, so it’s never been more important to know how to stay safe on the web.