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Stay Safe OC: Protecting your data

Do you know how to safeguard your data? In today’s digital culture of online shopping, Apple pay and money transfers with the click of an icon on a smart phone, it is critical for residents to take steps to protect their personal information.

In honor of National Data Privacy Day, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department wants to share some ways you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Pass phrases, not passwords

Avoid using one-word passwords and opt for longer, and tougher to hack, pass phrases. Maybe it’s a quote from a favorite movie, an inspirational phrase or a go-to song lyric – use something unforgettable to you.

Vary your pass phrases for each online account.  Your social media pages, email, online banking, and online shopping accounts ALL should have different pass phrases. Worried about remembering them all? There’s an app (or several) for that. Apps such as LastPass or Dashlane are secure ways to create, store, and manage unique passwords for all of your accounts.  Best of all, you only need to remember the one pass phrase to access the app.

Opt for double security

Two-factor authentication for your digital accounts provides for an added layer of security by requiring two different factors to access your accounts. Turn it on! The security is worth the extra effort.

By using a platform such as Google Authenticator or Authy, you can better protect your data. It’s likely that many of the services you use online or on mobile including PayPal, Dropbox, Facebook, or Instagram have an option for two-factor authentication.

Consider virtual credit cards, and don’t offer up your info  

One of the biggest threats to online shoppers is third-party data breaches. That is to say, your favorite retailer gets hacked and your personal information is then compromised. 

When online shopping, consider using a virtual credit card service to protect your payment information. Some credit cards, like the Apple card, offer temporary credit card numbers.  Or an app such as privacy.com will generate a new virtual credit card number for every purchase you make, protecting your actual account information.

In addition, be wary of offering up personal information for retail loyalty or rewards programs. By using an alias, you can still reap the customer benefits without putting your privacy at risk. You are not necessarily required to provide true personal information for these programs.  Try to read the terms of service to know where your information is going. 

If this sounds like a lot of extra work, it can be. However, implementing just one of these tips can better safeguard your financial and personal information and save you from financial loss, a stolen identity, or another crime that capitalizes on stealing your data.

As retailers continue to innovate ways to make it easier to digitally consume products, hackers are equally fast in finding ways to exploit and steal that information, putting you at risk for becoming a victim.

This Data Privacy Day, take steps to protect your information, and as always: Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay safe, OC.