Friday, October 14, 2022

Protecting Your Computer, Bank Accounts and Personal Identity

Here is my personal list of suggestions to protect yourself online, based on my reading since getting hacked two weeks ago.

- Never respond to a website, email address or phone number that appears in a pop-up box on your computer!  This was my big mistake.  Call a computer technician.

- Consider carefully how much information you give out online.  I have chosen to write a blog, so you can find my picture and probably my name online easily, but that is my choice.  Because so many places ask for my birthdate in a medical context, I tends to assume that is public too.  At the other extreme I would never give out my social insurance number or Passport identification to just anyone, and I am pretty careful about my address too.

- Consider carefully whether to post pictures of relatives including grandchildren.  I no longer do.

- Have a second credit card with a low limit for online purchases.  If that one is not through a different financial institution, consider a third credit card through a different institution especially for international travel.  We had a card compromised while in Europe once and without a card from a different bank would have had a serious problem.  For the scammed card they were spending the money within two hours, using a replica card in Indonesia!

- Have strong passwords with a mix of capitals, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols - a minimum of ten digits long.  Make them phrases you can remember but no one else will guess, do not write them down, memorize them and do not share them with anyone!

- Do not use public Wifi such as in a library to access bank accounts.

- Watch for suspicious emails and do not fall for phishing, which might ask you to click on a link in an email.  Do not respond to an email from anyone you do not know, or click on any attachment on such emails.  

- Keep your computer up-to-date, and install antivirus software, antispyware software, and a firewall.  Get professional help if you need to, which I will do.

- For places that have it available, use two-step authentication, for example when you get a code sent by text to complete your sign-in.

- If shopping or paying for services online only give out credit card information to companies or agencies you trust.

- Monitor your accounts and, if you are really concerned, your credit score (you may need to pay for this).  There are two sides to monitoring your accounts.  I have had it recommended by bankers that I do get online banking (which I have), so I can check for unknown expenditures regularly.  Other people I know are uncomfortable with online banking because it exposes you through your own computer rather than only the bank.  Your choice.

Hope you find these suggestions helpful.  Coming up - some fall colour.


  1. Thank you F.G. These are great tips and suggestions. I do follow most of what you've listed, however there are a couple that I'm not good at following. I like the idea of a low limit credit card at another institution and may follow up on that one. It's a great idea.
    Thanks for taking the time to help us all live safer. ♥

  2. My husband is super paranoid about all this and has kept me mostly safe. These are all really good things to do, and I follow all of them. I was taken once, for $400, thinking I was sending it to a friend, but it was a scam. It taught me a lot for that amount of money! :-)

  3. I am.very careful online. Among other things using this name as a nom de guerre online.

  4. We have two bank accounts, with different banks. I recently had a phone call asking for a donation to a well known organisation, which we use frequently, St John Ambulance. I donated some dollars, with my credit card, but when I hung up, realised that it could have been a scam, so went online and blocked my card.I can request another card with different numbers, to be safe.All your suggestions are so worthwhile.

  5. Good suggestions. Since H was a bank security officer before we retired, we do that and more, including never accessing financial accounts on-line. If our accounts are hacked, it's the institution's security that's at fault without question. I never use public WiFi. It's also a good idea to periodically change all your passwords and perhaps your user name as well if that's permitted. In this day and age it's almost impossible to "hide" your address and phone number. We also have several email accounts with different names and DO NOT have Facebook accounts

  6. I am currently being phished by my supposed cellular company to claim a rebate. “Just contact this number.” Uh no. Thing is that I could almost believe that the company had overcharged me and would offer a rebate. At that point, I did double check my real account with the real company just to cover all bases. Sadly, there was no money owing me.

  7. I routinely get emails that are false and that i delete. I have a card that I use only for online purchases, but I must check its credit limit. Thanks for the good information.

  8. All great ideas. I do use on-line banking but only on my computer, never my phone. I check the accounts, at least once a week - not necessarily due to fear of hacking but rather my need to keep track of every penny.
    I agree with Woody, changing passwords (and not using the same one for every thing you log into) is important. One of my earliest passwords was spammed and I started getting multiple threatening e-mails, several years ago. You can bet I learned my lesson.
    A website will let you know if your e-mail or passwords have been breached. A friend of mine who worked in IT referred me to the website so I'm pretty certain it is legit. (I haven't bought their services).

  9. All good tips and advice for sure. When we first set out into the computer world back in the late 90s we were new to the game and got clobbered a lot. But we learned from those hard lessons. However, with new hacks and scams coming up all the time one can't relax their guard for a moment. There sure is a lot of low life slithering around out here in the cyber world.