I’m sure you are well aware of all the data breaches that have taken place over the past few years. It seems like there’s a new one every few days. In fact, just today, a client told me that his Chase credit card was being re-issued because of the recent Home Depot data breach. Unfortunately, I also have a Chase credit I never used at Home Depot, so I’ll probably be getting a new one.
Earlier this year, all my credit cards were re-issued because of the Target data breach. The frustrating part of that was that I only ever use my Target Card at Target, yet all my credit cards were still re-issued. When I asked each of those companies why they were doing that they all said it was done as a precaution not because they suspected my account was compromised.
And, when a credit card number is changed, you have to change all your automatic payments which takes time. You cannot stop hackers from breaking into the merchants you buy from, but you can protect yourself.
Here are four simple steps to protect yourself:
- Don’t save your credit card information with online merchants. Just because the credit card appears as “**** **** **** 1234”, the “****” ‘s are no guarantee that they are stored securely. For example, TripInsuranceStore.com doesn’t save credit card information. No one ever complains when we ask for their card information.
- At a minimum use long and complicated passwords with your accounts. We use at least 17 digit long passwords on the TripInsuranceStore.com email accounts. To give you an example of what I mean by complicated, here’s a password I no longer use: Ds45*Po%bZ#rdJ^q
- Use different passwords for your different online accounts
- Enable “Two Step Verification” on your emails and financial accounts. That means if someone tries to access the account from a non-verified place, you get a notification. Here’s how Google describes this.
If you don’t want to have to keep track of all your complicated passwords, get a password manager. I use LastPass. With LastPass, you have one long complicated password that is your Master Password. You have to remember that one because it’s not stored anywhere. For my many smart subscribers, here’s how LastPass works: “We’ve implemented AES 256-bit encryption with routinely-increased PBKDF2 iterations.”
Another good idea is to use secure online storage to store important documents. I use DropBox for my online storage. I can access my DropBox folder from anywhere, too. DropBox is free and comes with 2 GB of storage.>.