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Ask the BBB: Spring cleaning should include cleaning up your digital device

BBB: Tips for a Fraud Free 2021
Posted at 7:26 AM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 12:53:33-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The weather is warming in some parts of the country, inspiring people to clean up or clear out clutter.

The one area many people overlook isn't the corner of a room or a forgotten closet; it's the probably the digital device on which you're reading this article.

We use our phones to shop, scroll through social media, bank, and work. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds everyone that when clearing out the physical clutter, there's probably a bunch of digital data clutter that lives on your electronic devices. 

"It may be a good time to give yourself a digital makeover," said Better Business Bureau Regional Director Katie Galan. "Taking some simple, proactive steps will go a long way in safeguarding against any number of potentially disruptive issues, like identity theft, loss of funds or credit card fraud."

Take the time to put into practice a few precautionary measures and you will have greater peace of mind – not only this spring, but all year round, she said.

  • Lock down your login: Security is critical to protect your work and personal accounts from being accessed by hackers. Ensure passphrases for each account are lengthy, unique and safely stored. It is good practice to enable multi-factor authentication on all accounts that offer it, especially those that contain the most sensitive information such as insurance, medical, banking and utility accounts. 
  • Update your system and software: As simple as it is to click ‘remind me later when notified there is an update for your computer system, it is important to maintain an up-to-date system. Having the most current software, web browsers and operating systems are some of the easiest and fastest ways to protect your most sensitive assets.  
  • Back it up: Protect your personal and workplace data by making electronic copies – or backups – of your most important files. Use the 3-2-1 rule to help guide you: three backup copies, two different media types (i.e., flash drive and paper), and one offline in a separate location.
  • Clean up your online presence: Look through your phone and tablet to determine what apps you regularly use and which you haven’t opened for an extended amount of time. Do you still need or use the app? What type of information and systems on your device does the app require access to and why? Take control of your accounts and make sure you know who has administrative access and what they can change or access.
  • Be careful what you share: Quizzes on social media are fun and keeping in touch is a necessity these days. But think twice before taking to social media for quiz's, they may give away too much information about you, your location or your family.

"Small business owners should take time in establishing, updating and communicating policies and procedures around topics like record retention," she said. "It's also imperative that a cybersecurity strategy is in place and used by all employees."

If you have a question or concern about a scam, product or business, be sure to log onto BBB.org for more.

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