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The world we live in is becoming more dependent on technology every day. While the internet can be a great benefit for many of us, all of our information being online can mean that we are more susceptible to having that data stolen.

Since it’s April Fools’ Day, we thought it would be a great time to give you a list of tips that can help you avoid being fooled in an online scam.  

Play It Safe with Public Wi-Fi

You can get internet access nearly everywhere you go these days, but just because you can check your bank statements or shop online from your local coffee shop doesn’t mean you should.

When you share personal information on an unsecured network, you risk scammers and identity thieves getting a hold of your data. If you do decide to look at or provide sensitive information while in public, we suggest using a mobile device to set up a secure hot spot to avoid your information being breached.

Beware of Fraudulent Emails

A common way for scammers to get your information is through phishing emails. These are emails that appear to be from reputable sources, like your bank, credit card company or financial services firm.

Some things to watch out for if you suspect a phishing scam are impersonal greetings like “Sir/Madam,” unusual or different formatting in the email, links within the email that are different from the site they claim to be representing. It’s also worthwhile to log into the company’s official website to access your account and to hover over any link in emails to see if it’s really taking you to a legitimate site. If you’re unsure of an email’s validity, it’s always a good idea to call and verify with any company who is asking you for your personal information online.

Create Many Strong Passwords

I know the number of passwords you need to remember is always growing, but if you use the same password on multiple websites and accounts, you leave yourself wide open to all of your accounts being hacked. We recommend using passwords that have upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols in each password and writing them down somewhere safe and secure in case you forget. Keeping those passwords off of your computer makes it less likely you’ll be in danger if your computer were to be hacked.

Check Your Credit Reports at Least Every Six Months

Each year you get one free credit check from each of the three credit reporting agencies. We suggest that you space out those throughout the year to keep an eye on any fraudulent activity on your credit report. If you do find something suspicious on your record, call the credit reporting agency to report the error.

There are many other things you can do to help protect your information, but following these tips is a great start. The key is to always use a skeptical eye and be on the lookout for any possible scams so you don’t end up playing the fool.

This article originally appeared in the Brainerd Dispatch on 4/6/18.

Bruce Helmer

Bruce Helmer

Co-Founder, Financial Advisor and Author, Speaker and Host of the "Your Money" Radio Show

Series 7 & 63 Securities Registrations,1 Series 66 Advisory Registration, † Insurance License Bruce has been in the financial services industry since 1983 and is one of the founders of Wealth Enhancement Group. Since 1997, he has hosted the “Your Money” radio show, a weekly program that focuses on delivering financial advice in a straightforward, jargon-free manner. Bruce also hosts with the "Mid-Morning" crew on WCCO-TV each Tuesday morning to...Read More