Keeping your investments safe - and secure

We provide a secure Web site and screen HELPLINE calls to ensure identities. But you need to take precautions in your Web usage. Here’s what you can do:

Figuring out a password is like cracking a code. Make it difficult for hackers to know your password. You can create a strong password by incorporating capital letters and numbers, and using more than 12 characters total.

Set up a password or PIN code for each of your devices, such as your desktop computer, laptop, smart phone and tablet. Always make sure that these devices are locked when not in use. Even your work computer should be locked when you step away from your desk.

Even if you have good security software on your computer, your friends and family might not. Be careful about the information you send by email. Never send your credit card information, Social Security number, or other private information via email.

Also, watch out for phishing scams. These are fake emails that look like they come from legitimate businesses. They want to lure you into revealing your login or private account information. To be safe, if you receive an email from a business that includes a link to a Web site, open a separate browser window and visit the business’ Web site that way. You can also verify that an email is from a legitimate business by calling the business or agency directly.

If you shop online, make sure the site you’re using is secure. A quick way to do this is to check that the site’s Web address (aka URL) begins with “https” at the time of checkout. Also, look for a tiny locked padlock symbol on your browser at the checkout screen. This symbol represents that the Web site is in secure mode.

When playing online games make sure you’re careful, especially when playing with other online players. Be sure your security software is working when you’re in “gaming mode.”

There are many good and helpful security software sources out there. Ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend who works with computers or IT. Unlike one-time software which can become outdated, subscribing to an online security service provides updates and protection every time you go online, making it well worth the annual fee.

If you have children, keep your family computer in an open area so that you can monitor their activity. Limit your children’s time spent online and use parental control software that allows you to oversee their activity online. This will keep your children from accessing undesirable Web sites and sharing personal information via online communications.

Social media is a prime location for people to obtain your information. To protect yourself, be extremely cautious about what personal information you share on social media, lock down your social media profiles and only accept friend requests from people you know. Be suspicious of anyone who asks for your personal information online and never share your home address, phone number, Social Security number, or other identifying information. And remember to always manage your privacy settings, making sure that you are only sharing information with friends and family. Check your settings regularly in case there are any changes.

With all the focus on online threats, it’s easy to forget that we all must be careful when talking over the phone, too. This is why participants are asked several identifying questions when calling the HELPLINE.

Rest assured, the individuals who answer calls on the HELPLINE are specifically trained to manage accounts and detect fraud attempts.

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