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Basic tips to keep your computer – and identity – safe

Keyboard with the shadow of a padlock in front.

It’s not always easy to identify online fraud, but when you’re armed with a little technical advice and common sense, you can avoid many attacks. Here are some basic tips to help you protect your computer and yourself.

Remember – Sound will never ask for your PIN, passwords or account numbers by email or text message.

Social media

Be cautious about what you share online. It’s safest to presume everything you share online – even if marked private or friends only – can be accessed, even if later deleted. The internet – especially social media – is forever.

  • Don’t complete online surveys, including those posing as fun “Find Your Personality Type” or “My First…” surveys on Facebook and other social media.
  • Avoid clicking on social media and online ads.
  • Only befriend people you actually know, as friends have more access to your profile information. If you get another friend request from someone who is already your friend, don’t accept it and contact them offline and let them know about it.

Email

It’s important to develop good email habits to protect your computer and your identity from viruses, worms, malware and email fraud. One email threat is phishing, where a perpetrator poses as a legitimate, trustworthy business to attempt to acquire sensitive information like passwords or financial information.

  • Be suspicious of emails asking for personal information or encouraging quick action – remember, we won’t ask you for any sensitive information via email or by text message. When you’re not sure if the email really is from us, type our URL, soundcu.com, in your browser’s navigation bar.
  • Only open email and attachments from senders you know. Even then, don’t open attachments with odd filename extensions.
  • Don’t open attachments with file endings of .exe, .pif, or .vbs. These are executable files and could be dangerous if opened.

Your computer

  • Keep your computer software up-to-date, especially security patches.
  • Use a reputable brand of anti-virus, and be aware of free fake anti-virus software/apps.
  • Use a secure browser. A secure browser is recognizable because the browser address bar (1) begins with ‘https’, (2) turns green (in high-security browsers) and (3) a special field appears to the right of the URL with a padlock and the name of the legitimate website owner. If you click on this section, you can view the details of the Certificate.
  • Lock your computer when it’s not in use. Better yet, sign off, shut down and disconnect from the internet.
  • Don’t use public computers or public or unsecured Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Beware of “shoulder surfers” – someone looking over your shoulder to obtain your sensitive information.
  • Be selective when providing your email address. Don’t allow websites to keep sensitive information or credentials for future convenience. Don’t allow websites to remember your passwords.
  • Use strong passwords and use different passwords for different sites. Never use birth dates, first names, pet names, addresses, phone numbers or Social Security numbers. Password manager apps with timeout features are useful.

Online criminals are trying to make money as quickly and easily as possible. The more difficult you make their job, the more likely they are to leave you alone and move on to an easier target.

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