Attorney General Chris Carr is encouraging all Georgians to join in recognizing Data Privacy Week from Jan. 22-28, 2023, by reviewing and adjusting their online privacy settings to protect their personal information.
“The widespread sharing and collection of personal data has made it easier for fraudsters to commit identity theft and perpetrate imposter scams,” said Carr. “Georgians can protect themselves by limiting the information they voluntarily share and the data they allow online entities to access. We encourage both consumers and businesses to take advantage of the many resources offered by our Consumer Protection Division, like our Cybersecurity Guide, so you can help to ensure your data is kept safe.”
Each day, consumers share their personal information across multiple online platforms, making them increasingly vulnerable to identity theft and unwanted advertising. To help all Georgians protect their sensitive data, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has put together the following security tips.
Evaluate the Apps that Require You to Share Data
Online apps and games, social media platforms, and web-based accounts collect your data. In fact, you can’t even use certain apps unless you allow access to your contacts, photos, calendar, or geographic location. Therefore, an important first step in protecting your data is to evaluate the apps you are using and decide whether the benefit you derive from their use justifies the personal information you are required to share with them. See if it’s possible to still use the app while also limiting the data they access or collect. If there’s an app you haven’t used in a long time, consider uninstalling it.
Review Your Privacy and Security Settings
Read company privacy policies to learn what information they are collecting about you and whether and with whom they are sharing that information. Check the privacy settings for each of your apps and online accounts and adjust the settings as you wish to limit the information collected. If you are unable or if you do not feel that a company is adequately protecting your data, you may want to close that account. For a list of direct links to update your privacy settings on popular websites, mobile apps and email services, visit: staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/managing-your-privacy/manage-privacy-settings/.
Don’t Overshare on Social Media
Providing too much information about yourself on social media could make you more susceptible to identity theft. The following profile elements can be used to steal or misappropriate your identity:
- Full name (particularly your middle name)
- Date of birth (often required)
- Relationship status
- School locations and graduation dates
- Pet names
- Other affiliations, interests and hobbies
Create Strong Passwords
The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Choose a password that is at least 12 characters long. You may want to use a phrase. A mix of letters, numbers and special characters will also make your password harder to crack. Do not use your name, birthdate or pet’s name in your password. Use a different password for each of your accounts so that if someone hacks into one account, they cannot access all of your accounts.
Protect Your Mobile Device
- Use a passcode to lock your smartphone or tablet when left idle for more than a couple of minutes. Do not use an easy-to-guess code like your birthdate or house number.
- Install updates as soon as they become available.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
Don’t Fall Prey to Phishing Attempts
- Do not click on links or download attachments, even if the message appears to be from someone you know, without first confirming that the message is legitimate. To do this, contact the sender through a verified phone number or email. Do not reply to the email or text message.
- Never share your username, password or PIN with others. Legitimate companies will not ask you for this information.
- Do not give your Social Security number, financial information or driver’s license number to someone who contacts you out of the blue, no matter who they say they are. Scammers often try to trick consumers into revealing this information by posing as government agencies, law enforcement, utilities, shippers and popular retailers.
- Never give someone remote access to your computer. This is a tactic used by fraudsters, often in conjunction with a tech support scam. The goal is to hack into your computer and steal your usernames, passwords and other sensitive information.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division offers a comprehensive cybersecurity guide to help small businesses, non-profit organizations and houses of worship safeguard their data. Cybersecurity in Georgia provides tips and best practices for protecting your data and network, training employees about cybersecurity, planning for and responding to a security breach, and more. The guide is free and available for download via the Consumer Protection Division . Consumers can also request free hard copies by calling (404) 458-3800.