March 2, 2015
***National Consumer Protection Week Consumer Alert***
Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt urges consumers to be proactive in safeguarding their personal information.
“With the rise in technology comes the potential for consumers’ private data to be available to would-be hackers,” said Laxalt. “Sensitive personal identifying information in the wrong hands can have serious financial implications for all Nevadans.”
The Nevada Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to safeguard private information:
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, cafes, stores, libraries, hotels and other public places. Public connections such as these are generally unencrypted, and may not be as secure as a home network. Avoid sending any sensitive information, such as conducting online banking or shopping online using public Wi-Fi hotspots. Any information you send via public Wi-Fi may be visible to other people.
- Encrypt your data on your home network by using password protection. Do not use the password that comes with your router, but rather, customize it. In general, choose strong passwords by using a mixture of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols. Avoid using common words, and instead use acronyms you are likely to remember. The random letter combinations make for a password that is harder to guess. Additionally, do not store your password in an easily accessible place.
- Check your browser window status bar for the lock icon while making online transactions to ensure your information is encrypted.
- Update software regularly on your personal electronic devices. Usually, updating the software plugs security holes that cause your personal data to be exploited.
- Practice turning off location services on your phone unless it is currently in use. Location services allow programs and applications to track your movements.
- Be careful what you share on social networking websites. Remember that this information is appearing online, and can be easily shown to others who do not subscribe to your updates.
- Check your annual credit report at Annualcreditreport.com. You can prolong your report review quarterly by checking the report of a different credit reporting agency every three months, such as Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
- Do not discount information being stolen from you. Limit what you carry to the identifying documents you need at the time. Do not carry your social security card with you. Make a copy of your Medicare card, and block out all but the final four digits of the number, unless you are going to the doctor’s office or medical facility.
- Shred copies of receipts, credit offers, checks, bank statements, expired cards and other documents that you no longer need. Do not simply throw them in the trash at home or in a public place without first shredding the document.
- Read privacy policies on websites. While many are several pages long, be aware of what information you are sharing when you use their services, and make an informed decision about whether to continue using them.
- When making online purchases, credit cards generally offer more protection than debit cards. If there is an unauthorized use of your credit card, and you report it in a timely manner, you may only be liable for up to $50. When paying with a debit card, the theft must be reported within 48 hours for the same protection. After that, your liability could be as much as $500, then unlimited after 60 days. Debit cards are also linked to a bank account, making all of the money in the account accessible, whereas the money within a credit card account is limited.
To file a complaint with our office, click here. Additional privacy tips can be found on the FTC website here.