How to avoid scams and frauds online
Avoid scams and frauds online with these cybersecurity tips.
ProblemSolved, USA TODAY
Some security steps are common knowledge. I don’t need to remind you to install that latest update on your computer, right?
Others are less obvious. Do you lock your computer every time you get up? Unless you live alone, you should. Here’s the easiest way to do it if you’re lazy.
On your phone, you’d probably never guess leaving your Bluetooth connected 24/7 is a mistake. Here’s why – and what to do if you can’t live without your AirPods.
I’ve got your back with more secrets only tech pros know to keep you safe and secure.
1. See if someone is secretly getting copies of your emails
I always get calls to my national radio show from people concerned that someone is watching everything they do.
One of the first steps I recommend: Make sure your inbox is locked down. Here are steps if you notice or suspect any usual logins:
- Log in to your email, then go to your account or security settings.
- You’ll find an option that allows you to view your recent login activity or login history. It will be labeled something like “Recent Activity,” “Security,” or “Login History.”
- Pro tip: Use Gmail? Click the Details link next to the Last account activity at the bottom of any Gmail page.
- Review the list of recent logins. See anything that isn’t you or one of your devices? You may see a strange location, too.
If you spot an unknown location or a device that isn’t yours, act fast. Change your password, be sure two-factor authentication is turned on, and log all devices out of your account.
Are you in the middle of a breakup or recently divorced? Read through this guide to untangling your digital lives. It’s worth your time.
2. Make sure your printer didn’t get hacked
Like your computer, your printer is a goldmine for hackers. Why? Printers often store copies of the docs that have been printed. Any cybercriminal could get copies of sensitive information, like your financial records.
Here are three signs your printer has been hacked:
Your printer starts printing blank pages or a bunch of characters.
You notice print jobs you did not initiate.
Your printer’s settings have changed – and it wasn’t you.
What should you do?
- Unplug the printer. Press and hold its Reset button, usually on the printer’s back or bottom.
- While holding the Reset button, plug the printer back in and turn it on. In about 20 seconds, lights will flash to indicate it’s done.
Running out of ink mid-print is the worst. Use these secrets to save on ink costs.
3. There’s a hidden location tracker on your iPhone
I recommend you look through the location settings on your phone. That will go a long way in shutting down a lot of the GPS tracking. But you can’t stop there.
Why does your phone tell you how long it’ll take to get to the office or knows your ETA to the grocery store when you get in the car for Saturday morning errands? That’s part of Significant Locations.
Apple says this feature exists so your phone can learn places significant to you and provide personalized services, like traffic routing and better Photos Memories.
Here’s how to access it – and shut it down.
- Open your iPhone’s settings, then tap Privacy & Security.
- Select Location Services.
- Scroll down and tap System Services.
- Scroll until you see Significant Locations and tap that.
If you don’t want your iPhone to keep track of your whereabouts, slide the toggle next to Significant Locations to the left to disable the setting.
Want to wipe out this list of significant locations? Follow the steps here.
4. You can wipe your phone if you lose it
The very idea of your phone in someone else’s hands is creepy. Imagine a stranger rifling through your photos, videos, apps, conversations, and browser tabs.
So what if your phone goes missing? You can take a step to protect your info, even if you never get that phone back.
To remotely erase your iPhone:
- Open iCloud.com/find and go to the Find iPhone feature.
- Select your lost phone, then select Erase iPhone.
To remotely erase your Android phone:
- Go to android.com/find and sign in to your Google account. Select your lost phone, and you’ll get information on its location.
- When prompted, select Enable lock & erase.
- Select Erase device to wipe its data.
Check out my guide here for more methods to find, back up, or erase your phone.
5. Apps are desperate for you to share the juicy details
Social media companies are dying to get their hands on your contacts’ birthdays, pictures, full names, email addresses, and more. They tell you it’s a handy tool to find your friends, but your friends’ info isn’t yours to give away. That’s their own to decide where to share.
From your address book, companies build so-called Shadow Profiles. They can learn a ton from those you know, even if they’re not using those platforms. Sneaky stuff.
How can you make a difference? Don’t give apps access to your phone’s contacts. Review which apps do have access and turn it off. And always pay attention and stop sharing info without a real benefit to you.
Even your phone number is powerful in the wrong hands. Here’s why I use a burner, not my real number when I need to give it out.
Keep your tech-know going
My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.
PODCAST CONTENT ON THE GO: Cancer patients’ naked photos leaked, TikToker steals widow’s ashes, and Florida wants blogger’s government registration
Plus, you won’t believe which jobs are on the brink of extinction due to AI. Teachers, brace yourselves! Get the latest scoop on the government’s TikTok ban, exploding e-bikes, and the top tax scams spreading like wildfire. Plus, I’ll spill the beans on the ultimate day to send your email newsletter for maximum impact!
Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
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