National Data Privacy Day is Jan. 28 and it’s the perfect time to take extra precautions to secure your personally identifiable information (PII). We all share large amounts of information when we use the internet. Our devices communicate with us – and with each other – for ease of shopping, banking, travel arrangements, and keeping in touch with friends. BBB reminds consumers to keep data safe from scams, fraud and identity theft.

“Quite a bit of information is already shared online via various devices,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “That’s why whenever you’re online, it’s important to safeguard your information to help avoid scams, fraud, and identity theft.”

The Better Business Bureau and the National Cyber Security Alliance offer the following tips to help secure the privacy of critical information:

Share with care. What you post can last a lifetime, so think about who will see your posts and photos, how they will be perceived, and what information they reveal about you.

Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. Remember, it’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

Value your personal information. Think of your personal information like money: value and protect it. Be careful what sites you visit and be sure you are on a legitimate site before entering personal information. Be especially wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true, or ask for personal information.

Make your passwords strong and secure. Use long passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols – the longer the better– up to sixteen characters for email and financial accounts. Don’t use the same password. Keep a paper list of your passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer. Consider using a password vault application.

Lock down your login. For your online accounts, use the strongest authentication tools available. Your user names and passwords are no longer enough; consider multi-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially for access on mobile devices.

Don’t click on unfamiliar links. Whether at home or at work, don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources or unexpected correspondence. One false click can infect a whole computer… or a whole business.

Pay attention to Internet-connected devices. Smart thermostats, voice control systems, cars, even refrigerators are just the beginning of the growing list of devices that watch our homes and track our location. Read the privacy policy and understand what data is being collected and how it will be used.

For more information:

See BBB’s Cybersecurity Resources page. Check out the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Privacy Tips, including special information for teens, parents, older adults, mobile users, and more. Businesses can learn more about BBB’s tips for improved cybersecurity.

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BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB offices can be found across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.