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Common Sense Can Help Consumers Protect Themselves Online, CU IT Professional Tells Leaguer
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 6:50 AM

As consumers move more of their lives to digital channels, they’re still concerned about online data privacy. In fact, a March 2014 study by Radius Global Market Research found that 60 percent of U.S. internet users were more concerned about how companies protected personal data than they had been 12 months ago. These worries weren’t limited to one age group, with the majority of respondents in each age demographic saying their concerns about personal information security had risen at least moderately.

The Radius study also found that 78 percent of internet users said they only purchased from companies they trusted. More than two-thirds agreed that they only bought from companies that could handle their data, and the majority were willing to pay higher prices if they felt their privacy was valued more.

Knowing who you are doing business with online is critical, according to Leah L Love, IT manager of core services for Tulsa FCU.

“When you are on the street, you wouldn’t share your personal information with just anyone, and those same principles apply when online,” she tells the Leaguer. “Once you put your personal information out there, it’s out there, so it’s important for consumers to verify that it’s a legitimate company and that the website is secure. We just need to apply common sense when we’re doing business online.”

Other measures consumers can take to protect themselves, Love says, is ensuring they have up-to-date anti-virus software on their computers. When they are not using their computers, consumers should log-off or lock their computers. Additionally, Love says consumers should use complex passwords and consider using pass phrases.

Passwords should be changed frequently. And consumers, Love says, should avoid using personal information [such as birthdates, pet names, etc.] for their passwords.

Sound advice; however, Radius found that although consumers reported growing concerns about data privacy, few changed their passwords often. Just 39 percent of U.S. internet users “regularly” changed their computer passwords, and around one-quarter changed their login information on their tablet, home network or smartphone with the same frequency.