Pierre, SD.  –  October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and AARP South Dakota’s fraud-watch network is offering a few tips for staying safe online.

First, create strong passwords and change them often, preferably every three months on sensitive accounts. Using phrases instead of something like a child’s birthday or pet’s name is much safer, too. Also, don’t access sensitive information while connected to public wifi.

Lindsey Holmquest, community outreach director with AARP South Dakota, said to be on the lookout for phishing scams. These are scams where someone pretends to be from your bank or other reputable institution and emails a link asking for verification of personal information such as a credit card or Social Security number.

“So what we always tell folks is, never click through,” Holmquest said. “You know, if there’s a question, that company will likely reach out directly to you, probably by a phone call. If you do get an email, it’s best to call them back. Verify first before sharing any of that information.

Cybersecurity has been in the spotlight after the credit reporting agency Equifax announced a data breach, which potentially compromised the personal information of more than 140 million Americans. Holmquest said it’s important to be vigilant, especially now.

“Definitely monitor your bank and your credit accounts online, look for suspicious activity, make sure that you recognize all the transactions that are happening,” she said. “If there’s any question, if anything looks funny, make sure you’re contacting your financial institution right away.”

If anyone suspects they have been the victim of identity fraud, they should reach out to their state attorney general’s office right away so it can get an investigation started as soon as possible. You can add it to the AARP fraud watch network’s scam tracking map, which records scams regionally.

 

Article by Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service