By M Katie Helle, CPA

A person’s privacy is hard to preserve with the use of the internet and social media nowadays.  A quick search of your name can turn up information you may not have realized was floating around in cyberspace. Unfortunately, your personally identifiable information can get in the hands of cyber criminals, which can lead to identity theft and fraud; however there are some simple steps you can take to protect your privacy:

  1. Use social medial with caution – limit the type of information you post online such as your birthday, email address and phone number.
  2. Limit the use of your social security number – this would include using the last four digits.
  3. Create strong passwords – passwords should be long passphrases such as “myfavoritecolorisred!”and should never be reused.
  4. Use two-factor authentication – this adds an extra layer of protection for your personal information should someone learn your password. Many email providers, banks, and online software companies require or offer this for your protection.
  5. Understand phishing emails – if you receive an unexpected email, do not click any links within the body of the email. For example, if you receive an email from your bank asking to verify information, do not click the link within the email.  Instead, go to your web browser and type the web address yourself.

Implementing the steps above certainly cannot guarantee privacy protection, but could prevent your personally identifiable information from falling into the wrong hands.