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Protect yourself from cybercrime

By: McTamney, Bette on in

PAR President Bette McTamney
PAR President Bette McTamney

We all do it, everyday. We do it without thinking, without worry. We put ourselves in harm’s way. No, not physically, virtually. How many e-mails have you open not knowing whom they were really from? How many websites did you visit without checking their authenticity? How many bills did you pay without verifying the websites were secure?

These are all things we’ve come to take for granted. We just assume someone out in the Internet world is doing all that for us. With over 6,000 identity theft cases per year in the U.S., we can no longer assume anything.

As Realtors®, it’s also our responsibility to our clients to make sure we keep their information safe at all times.

Here are some simple, easy to follow tips on how to help protect your clients and your personal information in our ever-changing technology-driven world.

E-mails

  • Do not open e-mails from sources you do not recognize.
  • Do not open attachments unless necessary.
  • Check e-mail addresses. It may say it’s from a friend’s name but is it the e-mail address they normally send e-mail through?

Websites

  • Do not use websites from vendors you do not know or cannot verify. If you haven’t heard of the company, check the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search on them.
  • When purchasing anything on a website, be sure the URL has https and that it has a lock somewhere on the site. When you click on the lock it should open up to a dialog box showing security information.
  • Do not transmit personal information over free Wi-Fi sites.

Another area to be aware of is social media. Be careful in making sure your settings on your locations are set correctly for 911 purposes but be careful to monitor how you post to Facebook or Twitter, etc. People can see you are at your children’s recitals or plays and it may post the name of the school, so make sure you block your location when necessary. Also, remember not to post where or when you are on a family vacation for security reasons and at the office – never ‘check in’ and comment that you are the only worker bee that has stayed late tonight, ALONE! Use common sense in your postings and the words you choose as if you were defending yourself at all times.

In addition to the tips above, be sure to load anti-virus software on your desktop and laptops and update it frequently. Also, never leave your laptop unattended if you are in a public place, like an open house or an airport. Today’s technology can be used safely if we implement these simple safeguards.

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