Take these steps to protect your money or personal information from criminals.
If your New Year’s resolutions focus on losing weight, getting in shape or other life goals, that’s great. But don’t forget to also make resolutions that protect you from fraudsters who’ve perfected criminal ploys to hack your accounts and/or fool you with bogus products and offers.
Also include online criminals out to solicit your sympathy or fuel your romantic fantasies while targeting your bank account for their own nefarious purposes.
“The loss of money, personal information and perseverance of scammers continue with online purchase scams as the riskiest of scams,” according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which recommends adding precautionary steps to prevent becoming a fraud victim in 2023.
Read on for six New Year’s resolutions for a fraud-free 2023.
1. I will be password savvy
If you use the same passwords for many or all of your accounts — especially if those passwords are easy to hack, such as those using pet and kid names or your phone number or birthday — you’re an easy target for fraud and identity theft.
Security experts recommend creating passwords that are at least 12 characters long, including capital and non-capitalized letters, non-sequential numbers and at least one or two symbols. Such passwords are hard to hack — but they’re also hard for the account holder to remember.
Solve this problem by using LastPass or another reputable password manager. Many password managers are free and can generate security-savvy complex passwords for all your accounts so that you don’t have to come up with them yourself.
The only password you must remember with a password manager is the master password. The password manager automatically fills in login information when you sign in to your accounts.
Find out: 4 Common Password Mistakes That Put Your Online Security at Risk
2. I will be wary of unsolicited emails
The BBB recommends extra caution with emails, especially unsolicited messages. “Scammers can make emails look like they are from a legitimate business, government agency, or reputable organization (even BBB),” warns the BBB. “Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.”
Find out: What to Do if Your Email Has Been Hacked
3. I won’t send money to people I haven’t met in person
If you’re hitting it off with an online sweetheart that you haven’t yet met in person, delete that person from your life the minute he or she asks you to send money.
“This is especially true if the person asks you to transfer funds using a prepaid debit card or CashApp,” says the BBB. “Money sent to strangers in this way is untraceable and once it is sent, there’s no getting it back.”
4. I will research retailers before buying
Before making an online purchase, research the retailer on its website and with an online search that includes the retailer’s name, along with the search terms “scam, “rip-off” or “scam.”
The BBB recommends asking yourself the following questions before buying:
- Is this a business that I know and trust?
- Does the business have a working customer service number and a physical address on its website?
- Is the website server secure for making payments, displaying ‘https’ instead of just “http” in the domain address?
- Are there online complaints against this company?
5. I won’t hand over personal information
“Sharing sensitive personal information with scammers opens the door to identity theft,” says the BBB. “Never share financial information, birthdate, address, Social Security, insurance number or Medicare number with an unsolicited caller.”
6. I will be cautious on social media
While it may sound fun to take that “what animal are you most like” quiz on Facebook, when you interact with such posts. These quizzes are designed to collect personal information about you, often including typical account security questions such as “what was your first car? “what was your mother’s maiden name?” or “what’s the name of the street of your childhood home?”
Adjust social media privacy settings to allow only people you know and block scammers from viewing or posting on your page. Also, don’t be too quick to purchase products you see advertised on Facebook or other social media platforms. Consumers have reported “thousands of complaints” about misleading ads on Facebook or Instagram, says the BBB.
Find out: How to Protect Yourself from Social Media Identity Theft
Published by Debt.com, LLC