How Safe Are You At Home? Part 4
November 28, 2012
Originally published May 24, 2012
Heading into the home stretch of discussing home security. We’ve talked about the 3 major areas you have to worry about in home security – doors, windows, and landscaping. This post will talk about being safe when you’re on the internet and credit card security.
I’m not an expert in either of those areas, so this will be simple things you can do to help protect yourself when surfing the web and/or using your credit/debit card on-line. It could be very upsetting, not to mention frustrating, to learn that you credit limit has been reached on your credit card. Or worse, your bank account has been drained of every last Penney.
Both of those scenarios happen on an all too frequent basis across the country. In some instances it is foreign nationals trying to get into the country illegally or other mischievous actions. But even more often it’s just plain criminals doing what they do best. Stealing from other people because it’s easier than working.
When you are out shopping and using your credit card(s) try not to take a whole fistful with you when walking through the store or mall. And that also goes for shopping on-line. Take one or two cards and use only those cards.
No matter where you are always keep a list of credit card phone numbers close by. Whether you keep it in your wallet for traveling or at home under a desk drawer, it’s imperative that you have them close by you. Why you ask? In case your cards get stolen and you need to notify the credit card (or bank) company they’ve been stolen or lost. If you do this, your liability is minimized and you could save your bank account from being as dry as the Gobi Desert.
However, never keep the numbers in the same place. Keep those numbers in a secret safe place. Again the reasoning is simple. If someone breaks into your house and finds the phone numbers, do you really want them having the card number as well? They can always call the number and change the address, not to mention the card and get into their hot lil filthy hands. If you can, also have the credit card company utilize a security question when calling them to make changes.
Most of them will do that. And it does give you another layer of security if your card gets lost or stolen. But again, make it a question that only you, or your spouse, can answer. And then don’t make your spouse mad!
Even more care needs to be taken with you debit card. Debit cards don’t offer the same protection as credit cards when it comes to fraudulent charges. When you lose or get your credit card stolen, it’s like losing a piece of paper with a phone number on it. You’re not liable for most charges that occur on the card after it’s taken or lost.
With a debit credit’s like dropping your bank account money on the street and leaving it behind. If someone gets a hold of it, or the numbers, then they can spend your bank account. And unfortunately, it can be drained very quickly if you have a thief that is a prolific spender, like Imelda Marcos. And for some of us that are on a fixed income, that can literally be devastating – how can you buy food, pay bills, or put gas in the car/bus fare with cash?
When using your cards when shopping, especially your debit card, don’t let anyone watch you put your PIN number into any terminal. Do your best to hide your card when you are using it to get money back from the cashier or at the ATM. And going along with this, leave your finger over the card until you have put it away.
There are reports, although not as prevalent as they were a year ago, that some thieves were using their iPhones to snap pictures of people’s cards while they were using them! After they did this they made up a dummy card and ran amok. When using your debit card, have the cashier run it as a credit card – that way you don’t have to punch in a PIN number. And for the disabled this can help save some grief.
When shopping on-line it’s just like going out and being in the store itself. Many many people and websites are just waiting to take your numbers and run with whatever you give them. And while I’ll have a couple of tips for you on keeping your cash where it belongs, then just be paranoid and cynical about anything you find on-line.
When shopping, you should see a padlock in the lower left hand corner of the task bar. This lil padlock lets you know that the website is secure and you can conduct business with that store or company. Does it mean that they aren’t being hacked and having their customer’s information stolen and other accompanying issues? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that they then take on the liability for identity theft protection and associated issues.
One other thing about shopping on-line you may want to be watch for is the fake websites that look like the real thing, and the ‘phishing’ e-mails you may get from supposedly legitimate companies. If you not aware of these you can spell disaster for your computer, bank account, and personal information. Once these hooligans gain access to your computer, they have you by ‘the short hairs’.
I have received e-mails from numerous places recently that purportedly are legitimate places to conduct business. But they aren’t. Usually opening those up is not devastating, but if you click on the attached link – you’ve got trouble. Some of these websites/companies are very well known.
Here is a sampling of what I’ve gotten. Wal-Mart, San’s Club, Costco, CareerBuilder, FedEx, Wells Fargo, and several others. As you can see whoever sends these out are using the name of well known merchandisers. And for some people it’ll work. If you receive such an e-mail and you think it may be suspicious, call the company about it and let them know. Most of the time they are extremely grateful for the heads up.
If you do open up one of these e-mails be careful what you click on to go somewhere else. The virus, Trojan horse, or whatever will be in the link code they put on there. Many times you’ll get the message that the website wasn’t found. Other times a website will come up and you’ll be tempted to shop or whatever.
Be acutely aware of any misspellings on the site. All legitimate companies will spell and grammar check their websites – usually by a University of Missouri Journalism professor (kidding) and a lawyer before they post it. So if you get an e-mail with a ton of misspellings or grammatical errors, once again, be very aware.
If you get an e-mail and still want to go to the website, then copy and paste the link into your browser. This may help avoid some nasty bugs from getting into your computer. And one more warning about these mails and websites.
Unless you absolutely positively know who has sent you the mail, never ever ever give them any information about you, your family, address and etc. This would be another ‘phishing’ expedition. Once you sign up for a fictitious newsletter or e-mail alert, they’ve got you! Not to mention your personal information. And if you have a lot of friends – then some of their information as well.
Imagine my surprise one day years ago, I was checking my e-mail and found one in my in box from me! It wanted me to send myself $50.00 for some BS reason. I immediately called AOL and cleared that up, not to mention having a computer store clean and wipe the computer. That is what can happen.
If a virus or Trojan horse gets into your computer, then it can take control and send out spam in your name! Imagine your surprise when you get an e-mail from yourself asking for money because you’re broke and need an operation! Not a very pleasant way to read mail. But at least you should have the inside track for knowing if you’re sick!
Like with home security, you have to be very careful about using the internet. It can be a very dangerous place to be for numerous reasons. Above are just a few of them. If you want more computer advice on security, contact a computer store that does virus scans and the like. Someone like Date Doctors is one of the best. Best Buy is also good, but they have neither the time nor proper expertise to talk to you for a period like others do.
I have some other sources for these things that might be willing to share a few tips. Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the names of them that you can talk to here in the Phoenix area. I will also be talking to a colleague about writing a guest blog on smart phones – you’ll be shocked when that one gets posted.
As always, either call me at 480-251-5197 or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you want some good pithy, humorous, & thought provoking comments, go to the Facebook page – Today’s Training. You you’ll also find other items as well i.e. workplace/school violence incidents.