Reduce Risk of Financial and Violent Crime
Keeping Your Devices Secure
- Use security software; install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often. Protect against intrusions and infections that can compromise your computer files or passwords by installing security patches for your operating system and other software programs.
- Avoid phishing emails; don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation. Learn a well-lit route back to your place of residence and avoid putting headphones in both ears, especially if you are walking alone.
- Walk with purpose. Even if you don't know where you are going, act like you do.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn't the best place to be.
- Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged.
- If you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other and leave together.
- Practice safe drinking. If someone offers to get you a drink from the bar at a club or party, go with them to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. Don't drink from punch bowls or other large, common open containers. Don't leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call. Watch out for your friends, and vice versa.
- Have a buddy system. Don't be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable or if you are worried about your or your friend's safety.
- If someone you don't know or trust asks you to go somewhere alone, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
- Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home. Lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from roommates or workers who come into your home.
- When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home. Make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits on the copy. Carry the copy with you, unless you are going to use your card at the doctor’s office.
- Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents.
- Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.
- Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
- When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.
- Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
- Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from a mobile device. Remove the phone book, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, messages sent and received, organizer folders, web search history, and photos.
- Keep Passwords Private! Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative. Think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.