Over the past decade, we have all more or less learned to say goodbye to personal privacy. Whether you’re a Target shopped who got your personal credit card info swiped, or Hillary Clinton who lost track of your damn emails, we’ve all seen aspects of our lives that used to be secret become, more or less, public knowledge. Depending on your personal disposition, this may or may not be distressing. Today, it seems like a given that certain aspects of your identity will be made known online, but there are certain lines that should not be crossed. In what ways can we protect ourselves from getting our personal information and money stolen, and where are the most important areas to focus our efforts.
We know that passwords and login info is important to manage, but not all password-protected accounts are of equal importance. Certain passwords, if stolen, will cause you not much problem at all. Others could be the gateway to disaster. Still other financial problems could emerge from having left certain aspects of your personal finance life unexamined. We’ll look at a few of those below.
Email, Facebook, and other Gateways. These are the places where you want to focus on security as much as possible. Why is that? Because Facebook and email are the gateway to so much other information about you. Think about it. How much personal information is revealed about you in the tens of thousands of emails archived in your Gmail account? Maybe you use Hangouts or another similar chat extension. What passwords or banking information is revealed about you in those conversation threads? Most of us communicate a great deal through our primary email account, in ways that are not limited to email. If this sounds like you, it’s time to update your passwords regularly with new, novel character chains. It’s also important to use 2-level encryption when possible. This second option is available through Gmail and other reputation email providers, and it is perhaps the best way to prevent anyone who isn’t you from accessing your email. Facebook does not yet support 2-stage password protection, but that password may be just as important to you, so update it as needed.
Complex, Multi-Stage Agreements. Remember the last time you bought a new computer or phone? How many agreements did you sign up for that day, just trying to get your device working and get on with your life? What about when you signed up for that car or mortgage loan? People all over Europe Google “When is the PPI Deadline” every day, because insurance of that type was fraudulently sewn into many loan agreements, saddling people with insurance they didn’t want, but for which they paid nonetheless – sometimes for months or years before the issue was resolved. Be especially careful what you sign up for in agreements like these, digital or otherwise.
It may seem inevitable, in the modern world, that personal information is up for grabs to whoever wants it. This may be the case in certain times and places, but there are precautions which may be taken at key communication points. Do this work, and you’ll keep the important stuff to yourself.