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Bank of America Savings Tip No. 8 – Stay Safe

As more people bank and shop online, proper Internet security is more important than ever. Safeguarding your information can be as simple as consistently reviewing your bank accounts and reporting any suspicious activity. But there are a num-ber of other things you can do to stay safer online. Here are 10 tips to help protect you and your money.

Use strong passwords. A strong password (one that is not easily guessed by a human or computer) will have eight or more characters, including letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure to use different user IDs and passwords for your financial accounts and for any other sites you use on-line. Check out our best tips for creating a strong pass-word.Be mindful of the numbers you use.

Don’t use any part of your Social Security number (or any other sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or birthdays) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN). If someone gains access to this information, it may be among the first things used to try to get into your account.L

Look out for strange emails. Don’t respond to emails that claim to be from your bank (or any other company) requesting your account details. No bank is ever likely to approach you this way to ask for personal information.Beware of email attachments.

It’s never a good idea to click on email attachments or free software from unknown sources. You could end up exposing your computer (and the information on it) to online fraud and theft. Keep in mind that links you receive in emails or in messages on social networking sites can be harmful or fraudulent, even if they appear to come from friends.

Watch how much you share online. The more you post about yourself on social net-working sites, the easier it might be for someone to use that information to access your accounts, steal your identity and more. Maximizing your privacy set-tings on social networking sites can also help protect your personal information.Be careful about what (and where) you click.

Look for security-enables website addresses that start with “https” (the extra “s” indicates security). These sites take extra measures to help secure your information. This is particularly important if you’re making purchases using your credit card. If you re-ceive requests for personal information while surfing the web, or calls for immediate action, these are al-most always scams. If you suspect a link might give you a virus or steal personal data, don’t click on it. If the link was sent to you, talk to the sender directly to verify where it came from.

Secure your smartphone. Many mobile devices give you the option of locking your screen, which helps keep data stored on them se-cure. Depending on your phone, this can come in the form of a passcode, a pattern you draw on your phone’s touch screen or even your fingerprint.

Don’t keep sensitive information on your phone. Sensitive information includes your bank account numbers, identification information, passwords and other personal details such as answers to your securi-ty questions. If you bank via mobile app, don’t worry. Banks won’t expose your account information or pass-words.

Think before you download apps. It’s a good idea to review the privacy policy and un-derstand what personal data an app can access before you download. It’s best to purchase or download apps from authorized stores.Keep your technology up to date,

Make sure to update your computer’s operating sys-tem, your Internet browser and the software on your mobile devices. Updates generally include the latest security patches. Be sure to also use anti-virus and anti-spyware software. These programs help find and remove malicious programs from your computer.By following these online and mobile security tips, you can help protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. If you suspect information related to your bank account has been compromised, contact your bank immediately for assistance in addressing the issue.

For more information on saving money and budgeting, visit Bank of America’s BetterMoneyHabits.com.

To sign up for the 90-Day Financial Fitness Challenge, go to MichiganChronicle.com/Business


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