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Wired In: Simple Ways To Protect Your Privacy On & Offline

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Wired In

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It’s no secret, life moves fast. That can leave us pretty careless about protecting our privacy. Here are some quick tips to keep you safe from those intruding on what’s ours.

Password Protect Your Devices 

This is an easy one, but surprisingly, it is not followed very often. Nearly all devices come with an option for password protection. It only takes a second to type in your password to unlock a device like your cell phone. Doing so ensures if you lose the device, your data isn’t open to just anyone. Would you leave your car unlocked? You shouldn’t leave your phone unlocked either.

Lock Down Facebook

Facebookers, are your status updates open to the entire world? Check!

When posting a comment, check which group is listed near the post button. What you see is your default. If your group says ‘Public’ then anyone can see your posts. To change the default click the gear icon, then click on privacy and adjust the group accordingly. It’s recommended you set it to ‘Friends’.

Trash the Cookies

By default, every internet browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.) remembers your search history and collects information about you on files called cookies. This happens while you don’t even notice.

If you want to reduce the amount you’re tracked online, click on Preferences (for Mac users) or Options (for PC users) and click on the ‘Privacy’ option. Set the option to ‘Never Remember History’. You can adjust to your desired settings, but you should go in and clear your history and cookies relatively often to keep your browser free of clutter and, more importantly, free from all those tracking cookies.

Keep Your Info to Yourself

Don’t be so eager to share your information like email, phone and even zip code. If you’re asked for your zip code at the checkout counter of a store, you don’t have to give it. Stores often profile you and your purchases.  Advocacy groups like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse state when paired with your name on your credit card, your zip code could reveal your actual address making you a target for marketing materials, like more junk mail.

Add Another Email

If you’ve ever been spammed, you know it can be extremely annoying. And once your email inbox fills up with spam, it’s hard to get rid of so it never happens again. A great way to avoid this problem is to simply create another email. Many email services offer free email addresses for simply registering. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all have a free email service. Once your new email is created, start using it for things like signing up for contests, subscriptions, newsletters, and other forms that ask you to sign up online. Use your first email for communication with your trusted contacts. That way you protect your first email and leave your second email to deal with spammers in the unfortunate case you land on a list.

Google Yourself 

This is a very quick way to keep track of when you’re mentioned online. Go to the Google Alerts page. Type in you name under Search Query. But also, add quotation marks around your name. That ensures that your name is searched as one phrase. If it’s written as just Josh Benson,  there may be various results for Josh and others for Benson. But if it’s written as “Josh Benson”, Google knows to search it together and that’s what you’re looking for. Set the other settings and add your email, then click Create Alert. Now, there are other Josh Benson’s in the world, so you won’t always get the exact links emailed to you. But it’s a good safeguard to monitor for when your name pops up.

Note: This only works for the Google News Feed – websites and blogs that are verified by Google. If your name just pops up on a forum somewhere, you may be out of luck until you, or someone you know spots it.

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