Washington: Computer hackers have an ability to cause chaos by using personal data that they have stolen. But the theft can be prevented if people are careful with their information.
Personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich shared advice during a talk show on how to protect personal information and what to do when hackers get their hands on it.
“The first line of defense is always your passwords, and the information on your computer,” Ulrich was quoted as saying.
“Make sure you go right to your computer, change your log-in information and password information on everything from your credit card accounts to where you shop through retailers and your email, as well because, as we saw -- Google and Yahoo - the hackers are coming in from everywhere,” she said.
Ulrich, author of ‘The Real Cost of Living’, said almost three-quarters of us use the same password on several accounts.
“Please stop doing that! Protect the banking part as much as you can, because the hackers will come in from the company side. But they’re coming in on your side, too,” she implored.
“Also, use one computer, if you can, to do your banking. I know it’s hard (with everyone using so many different devices). Try to do it all on one computer. That limits exposure.
“And, never, ever do banking or do transactions online on an open Wi-Fi. It’s very tempting because it’s so easy. You could be sitting in a coffee shop or the airport or wherever you are. Squatters will sit there and scour that Wi-Fi. So definitely don’t do that.
“And don’t use your debit card online. This runs counter (to conventional wisdom), because credit cards, people say, are bad. But a credit card protects you and your cash.
“Of course, there’s (a) liability (limit) with your debit card. But who wants their accounts emptied of cash? Instead, use your credit card online, so at least you don’t expose yourself, cash-wise,” she stated.