• Watch out for phishing attempts. We’ve all gotten calls or messages that were clearly scams, such as when the “IRS” calls to say you’re going to be arrested if you don’t immediately make a payment via credit card. But they’re not “clearly” scams to everyone, and if someone happens to send you an email that is plausible because of your present situation, you could be fooled, too. Unless you’re absolutely sure about the person or company you’re dealing with, don’t give out personal or financial details on the phone or via email. If you have a question about someone’s authenticity, type the organization’s web address into your browser (don’t click links in an email or use an address provided by a caller). Then call or email back using the information on the actual website, or get the correct contact information from your account statement.

  • Back up (or wipe out) your data. Not only is this important in case your device is stolen, it also can save you in the event of a “ransomware” attack, where someone blocks access to your data unless you pay a fee. Some devices and platforms have a feature that allows you to erase everything remotely if needed, so consider enabling that feature if it's available. And remember to always fully wipe old devices before selling or recycling them. Simply deleting files isn’t enough—check with the manufacturer and learn how to completely erase all of your information.

  • Watch where you go online (and where you’re connected). If you’re making a purchase online, don’t enter your credit-card information (or other sensitive details) unless the site’s address begins with “http.” And it’s best to avoid entering this type of data when you’re on a public network, especially if it’s unsecured.

  • Of course, nothing can completely protect you from all risk online. Even the founder of LifeLock, a data-security company, famously had his identity stolen multiple times. (To be fair, he did use his actual Social Security number in an advertising campaign, which in hindsight wasn’t the best move.) But if you use the steps above, you’ll be ahead of most people.

    Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance.