Staying Safe in the Cloud

Consumers don't always have to hand over information when asked

NEW YORK (CNN) – Between the recent celebrity photo hack and news of another major retailer with a data breach, consumers may be wondering if their personal information is safe anywhere.

Headlines like these can make consumers uneasy about trusting third parties with personal data, even though online transactions and interactions have become a way of life. By now, most consumers have heard the warnings. Create strong passwords. Change them periodically. And don’t use the same one across all online accounts.

However, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance recommends taking the extra steps. For example, checking cloud settings on multiple mobile devices, to make sure what’s private, can’t easily go public.

Also, experts say, consumers don’t always have to hand over information when asked, especially a social security number.

“If you’re asked for it, ask if it’s necessary. But what you can do actually, is ask your financial institution to put a note on your account that you do not want to use your social security number as verification,” said Cameron Huddleston of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Online shoppers can also take the extra precaution of checking out as a guest, rather than storing billing information on a retailer’s website.

“If that site is hacked, all of your personal information, your credit card, your address, your telephone, is stored there, and then those thieves have access to it, so always sign in as a guest,” said Cameron Huddleston of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

These are all things to do now, to stay ahead of the crooks.

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