DECEMBER 2014 ;e Costco Connection 15
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WITH BANKS AND RETAILERS reporting news
of cyber attacks, you might be concerned about
fraud and identity theft, and rightfully so. As consumers, we hand over our personal information to
these institutions and we trust that it will be kept
private. Although you cannot control if a cyberattack will directly affect you, or when the next one
will hit, you can take steps to protect yourself, reduce
the risk and minimize the effects of an attack if it
does happen. Here’s what you can do.
Create strong passwords. A strong password
has a combination of capital and lowercase letters,
numbers and symbols. Experts recommend no
fewer than eight characters in the password.
Avoid creating passwords that include personal
information, such as your name, address, birthday,
etc. Also avoid passwords that include common
words or phrases.
Use different passwords. Using the same
password for all of your accounts is a big risk. If
there’s a data breach at one site, all your accounts are
vulnerable. Routinely change passwords, and they
should all be different. Password-protect all devices
that connect to the Internet and user accounts. And
never send passwords via email or text.
Consider a credit security freeze. Placing a
credit security freeze with the three credit reporting
bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—
prevents them from releasing your credit report without your consent. This in turn helps to prevent new
Protect yourself against
fake accounts from being opened in your name,
because your credit report cannot be accessed without information and authorization from you.
However, a security freeze cannot prevent all
types of identity theft. For example, a security freeze
will not prevent an identity thief from using your
existing credit cards or other accounts.
If you do freeze your credit files, remember that
you’ll have to temporarily lift the freeze to access
new credit or open up new accounts; this is something to consider, because it could delay, interfere
with or prohibit timely approval of requests. Security
freeze fees and requirements differ by state. For
more information, visit
Check your credit report. Federal law allows
you to get a free copy of your credit report (not your
credit score) every 12 months from each credit
reporting company. You may access your free
annual report at annualcreditreport.com. Be cautious of other websites that claim to offer free credit
reports. A number of sites will give you a free report
only if you buy products or services. Other sites give
you a free report and then bill you for services you
have to cancel.
Check your accounts on a regular basis for
questionable activity. Set a time to do this once a
week. If something stands out as suspicious, investigate it immediately and report it if necessary.
Keep personal information private. We cannot stress this enough: If you are contacted via
phone, email or text and asked for your personal
information, don’t ever give it out unless you
are completely sure who the source is. Verify the
authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly. Scammers may
claim to be a retailer, bank or even a government
agency. They may know things about you that make
them seem legit. They may persuade you with
attractive offers. Remember: This is a game for
them. Don’t fall for it.
By taking the steps above, you can have peace of
mind that if a cyberattack hits, you did what you
could to protect yourself. C
Keep up with
CYBERATTACKS are unpredictable, and there may
not be any warning about
them. Some could take
weeks, months or even
years to discover. Here are
two ways that you can keep
up to date with current
• Subscribe to tips
and alerts from the United
States Computer Emergency
Readiness Team (US-CERT).
US-CERT strives for a
safer, stronger Internet
by responding to major
incidents, analyzing threats
and exchanging critical
with trusted partners
around the world. For more
information and to subscribe, visit
• Become a friend of the
Department of Homeland
Security’s Stop. Think.
Connect. Campaign. By
signing up, you receive a
monthly newsletter with
cybernews, tips and trends.
For more information,
The Costco Connection
Costco would like to remind members about the
identity theft protection service offered through
Identity Guard. For information, go to Costco.com
and enter “Identity Guard” in the search box.