Financial Literacy - Protecting your identity
A cartoon woman in a football uniform and helmet with her left hand out in a stop motion and carrying a large social security card with a green background
smart spending
10 tips to computer security

Computers can be enormous timesavers and powerful financial tools. Using budget tracking software, paying bills online and buying items more cheaply from wholesale or auction sites can make a lot of sense.

Secure your ID on your PC
  1. Using passwords and profiles
  2. Getting your guard up
  3. Upping the anti with software
  4. Running scans to stay current
  5. Taking wireless precautions
  6. Pumping up passwords
  7. Doubting downloads
  8. Avoiding public computers
  9. Watching smart phones and PDAs
  10. Scrubbing files

But before you load up your computer with sensitive information about yourself, you'll want to take the necessary steps to ensure your personal finances stay personal. Here's how to keep your computer on lockdown and off limits to identity thieves.

1. Use passwords for protection

You wouldn't leave sensitive documents laying out for prying eyes; likewise, you need to put away the information stored on your computer in a safe place: locked behind a password in your own user account.

Even if you are a true Luddite and never intend to go online, you'll still want to password protect your computer. That's because if you have a snoopy houseguest or if a thief picks up your laptop, they could get at your information as you sleep if it's not password protected.

Set up a separate user account for others to surf on so you keep your sensitive information private.

HOW TO: For Windows-based machines, go into the control panel, choose user accounts and follow the instructions. Mac users must create a password upon using the computer for the first time and they can change their password settings by going into system preferences. There they can disable automatic login. (If you get stuck, ask a trusted techie for assistance. That goes for all these tips.)

2. Get your guard up

Before merging with the information superhighway, you're going to want to make sure that all the existing security settings your computer comes with are turned on. If you want to go out and buy added protection later, that's great. Just make sure you have basic protection enabled before going online.

First, fire up the firewall. Your computer should come with a firewall, or perhaps a software package came bundled with your purchase that includes a firewall. It's basically a set of programs that work together to enforce the safety rules you outline when you choose a security level. The firewall is the gatekeeper for Internet activity.

advertisement

The default setting is usually on, but you'll want to verify that it's on if you don't see the firewall icon when you turn on the computer.

 

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
REFINANCE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed refi 4.00%  0.09 4.09%
15 year fixed refi 3.08%  0.12 3.20%
10 year fixed refi 3.13%  0.11 3.24%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.32%  0.02 4.30%
50K FICO-based HELOC 3.98%  0.02 3.96%
100K FICO-based HELOC 3.83%  0.02 3.81%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.75% --0.00 2.75%
48 month used car loan 2.99% --0.00 2.99%
60 month new car loan 3.19%  0.01 3.20%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.99% --0.01 0.98%
2 Year CD 1.22%  0.01 1.21%
5 Year CD 1.87% --0.00 1.87%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.76% --0.00 15.76%
Cash Back Cards 16.44% --0.00 16.44%
Low Interest Cards 11.04% --0.00 11.04%
 
Next
advertisement
FRUGAL NEWSLETTER

Discover new ways to cut costs and save more every day. Reduce your spending, not life’s pleasures. Delivered weekly.

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us