It is a fair guess that you may have heard about the recent massive hack attack, the largest hack attack in history of government computers. Four million, or 80%, of all current and previous federal employees potentially had their personal information stolen. Nearly every government agency was affected by this breach. The concern is that the hackers can now be able to blackmail US Government officials around the world. Previous to this hack attack, Sony Pictures was hacked and at the time, news media stated that was the worst hack attack of all time. My point in mentioning that is it is becoming common to hear about hackers.
Since I currently work for one of those government agencies, I thought I would re-publish the steps that I take to provide as much protection as I can because all of the money-saving techniques that I use are completed online. Why go to all of this effort? Because I save anywhere from 20 to 45 percent off of products and services that I normally use without spending one single penny by using my own Combination Techniques. I provide those techniques in the 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique for free in my website so that you can prove to yourself that the Combination Technique really does work.
I provide steps to protect your computer in the article titled: Beware of Links and Attachments in which I show you how to safely open links and attachments, Dangers of Unsubscribe Links in which I explain how to use rules and alerts to accomplish moving those unwanted spam emails directly to your recycle bin, using task reminders to check Your Social Network Profile periodically to ensure that it is exactly as you want it (rules change with various social media networks).
I also provide a series of steps that you can take to protect your credit worthiness. In Never Provide Personal Information because you already did that when you applied for your credit cards and bank accounts and therefore, those agencies will not ask for that information. In Free Annual Credit Report, I cautioned that you use only the legitimate website that is hosted by the Fair Credit Report Act, and I offered a tip that I learned from my son, who used to work for a credit card company in that you should pull your credit report annually from all 3 major credit reporting agencies simultaneously so that you can compare one to the other, thereby making it easier to catch errors in your credit report. Most everyone else suggests that you pull one credit report from one major credit reporting agency every 4 months. I suggested that you pull your credit score every month, and that you stop paper invoices and statements from being mailed and switch to paperless.
In the section: Four Steps to Get Set Up, I discussed the importance of keeping your antivirus software up to date.
During this escapade of the major hack attack at the government, I thought I would share some of the information that we have been receiving because the information is excellent:
- Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website Recovering from Identity Theft is Easier with a Plan provides all of the steps you should take, and you should act quickly. I would suggest that you print this list NOW and put it in a safe place. Hopefully you will not need it; however, if you do need the information, considering that you will feel very overwhelmed and violated and unable to think coherently, if you have the list already printed, it will make things a little bit easier to recover.
- Use Stay Safe Online.org to learn how to keep your mobile devices safe. I checked this website link both in Norton SafeWeb and also Webutations.
- How to Safeguard Personally Identifiable Information whether you are emailing, mailing, or faxing. Also see this handbook from Homeland Security about Safeguarding Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information.
- Office of Personnel Management is providing regular updates.
- Stay Safe Online also offers an article about Staying Safe on Social Media.
- Securing Wireless Networks at Home: the only websites that I trust that are comparable to this information are WikiHow and Microsoft Safety & Security Center.
- Did you get a consumer complaint notification from the FTC? It’s a scam. This is from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Phishing: Learn how to avoid phishing scams by referring to these websites: BBB: Don’t Let a Personalized Touch Added to a Phishing Scam Hook You In and McAfee: Don’t Let Cybercriminals Hook You with Mobile Phishing Messages.
We also received information about older adults getting into the act online.
Some final thoughts:
The FTC recommends that you do not have your paper checks mailed to your home but rather have them mailed to a post office box and then go to pick them up. Even though many people now bank online, there are some occasions that still require paper checks.
Make use of using free credit alerts that are offered by banks and credit card companies so that you will be notified of potentially suspicious activity.
Another excellent resource to find out if a potential offer or threat is real is Snopes. Log onto Snopes and type any part of an offer you received or a ‘really great deal’ or any other potential too good to be true offers. Snopes will return with actual evidence.