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Protecting your Online Activities

Reduce the risk that someone will access to your private information or financial accounts online.

Fraud Prevention Center


Protect Yourself Online

With more of our financial activities occurring over the Internet, it is important to be aware of risks these activities entail and steps you can take to reduce the risk that someone will illegally gain access to your private information or financial accounts.

Protecting Your Online Activities

Take caution when using Public Wi-Fi

  • Public Wi-Fi is not secure, do not access your personal or financial information when using public Wi-Fi
  • Only log into secure sites with URLs that start with https:// or have a
    padlock symbol
  • Don’t stay permanently signed into accounts
  • Change your device’s setting so it does not automatically connect to
    nearby Wi-Fi
  • Use your mobile data instead of Wi-Fi because it is usually encrypted

Secure your home network

Encrypt your network: Encrypting scrambles the information sent through your network. This can be done by updating your router settings to either WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal.

Change your router’s preset passwords: If your router comes with preset passwords, change them to something more complex. Reset both the Wi-Fi network password and the router admin password.

Protect each device that is connected to your router: If your device came with a default username and password out of the box, change them. Use two-factor authentication, set up the security feature on your device,

Regularly update your devices: update your security software, operating system, internet browsers and apps. For information on how to do this go to the developer’s website.

Secure your accounts

Create and use strong passwords:

  1. Use at least (12) characters with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters (#, $, ^, &,!,?, {, >, etc.).
  2. Passwords should not be based on personal information and not be based on words found in a dictionary.
  3. Consider using a passphrase of random words so that your password is more memorable. For example, start with the sentence "My children John and Mary are 12 and 16 years old." Then use the first letters of the words, characters and the numbers to create the "McJ&Ma12&16yo" password.
  4. Don’t reuse passwords you’ve used on other accounts.
  5. Use multi-factor authentication when it’s an option. This offers extra security by requiring something in addition to a password to log in to your account.
  6. Choose security questions to which only you know the answer. Avoid questions like your zip code, mother’s maiden name, and birth place, or questions with a limited number of responses which hackers can easily guess.

Fraud Prevention 

Disposing of a PC Hard Drive

Sensitive information is stored on your hard drive. This information should be backed up and removed before disposing of an old PC.

  • Back up your data: Transfer files to a new computer, or to the cloud, or save the information to an external hard drive
  • Erase your hard drive and reset it to factory settings
  • Dispose of your computer: Check with the Environmental Protection Agency's Electronics Donation and Recycling page, or with the computer manufacturer or a local electronics store

Additional Measures for Protecting Yourself Online

  • Do not reply to or click on a web link in an email that asks for any personal information unless you have initiated contact with the merchant
  • Be especially cautious about "urgent" emails warning you that your account will be closed unless you confirm your sensitive information
  • The government and many financial institutions have a policy of not soliciting a consumer's sensitive information through e-mail. Instead, contact the company cited in the e-mail using an authenticated number or other form of communication that you are sure is genuine
  • Be sure to keep your antivirus and firewall software up-to-date

For more information regarding Identity Theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft website.