One of the most common ways by which criminals gain access to accounts and data is a simple one. It doesn’t rely on writing sophisticated (and expensive ) malware, you don’t have to click any links, and you might not even be involved in the process at all. Most institutions have ways by which individuals can reset passwords, or access an account after a forgotten password. Criminals can take advantage of this, by pretending to be you and going through the password reset process.

Thankfully, this can be relatively easy to reduce our risk for. As many of us are not famous, our personal information is mostly private. However, more and more people are choosing to use social media to broadcast every bit of their life to the entire world. If you use social media, there are two things you should do to ensure that the private details of your life are too accessible. For example, security questions commonly ask about things such as anniversaries or familial names. While your neighbors may not know these things, the whole world has access to them if you post them on social media. So, if you are using social media, make sure that you enable privacy settings. Most social media systems have privacy settings which allow you to control who can see some of your posts. While this is not foolproof, and you should still be careful what you post, this can help to deter criminals, making yourself a more difficult target. Second, just be cognizant of what you are posting. In particular, review your account security questions, and maybe go through the password reset process to find out what a hacker would need to know to compromise your account. If this information is not difficult to find, then you are in trouble.

Privacy is a concern not just because we like to keep our lives to ourselves. Everyone using the internet should be aware that anything they post could potentially be read by anyone, and even linked back to you. Don’t go online and post details of your personal life which could be used to compromise your financial and professional accounts.
Therefore, the best thing you can do to ensure your safety from this type of scam is to make sure your security questions are difficult to figure out for others, and pay attention to what you are posting online.

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