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Keep your personal information secure.

Be alert to impersonators: Don’t give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact.

Safely dispose of personal information: Before disposing of any electronic device, use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive and eliminate all personal information stored.

Encrypt all data: To encrypt your online transactions, use encryption software that will scramble information sent over the Internet. Look for the “lock” icon on the status bar of your browser to ensure your data is being safely encrypted.

Keep passwords private: Use strong passwords for your accounts. Be creative, using a formula such as the first letter of each word in a phrase and substituting some numbers or special characters for letters.

Be safe on social media: Don’t share personal information on social media and avoid filling out surveys, even those that appear to be “just for fun.”

Don’t share your Social Security Number: Ask questions before sharing your SSN or that of your child:

  • Why do they need it?
  • How will it be used?
  • How will they protect it?
  • What happens if you decline?

Utilize security software: Install antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall to protect your data.

Learn to recognize phishing emails: Don’t open anything sent by strangers, and watch for emails with urgent language or unexpected requests, such as a colleague that is usually casual but sends an email using more formal communication.

Use wisdom with Wi-Fi: Before using a public wireless network, find out how your information is protected. A secure wireless network will protect all the information you send.

Log off: When you are finished using your laptop or mobile device, log out of websites and even the device to protect your information in case of device theft.

Read privacy policies: Yes, they are cumbersome, but you will gain valuable information about how a site maintains access, security and control over the information it collects.