The recent hacking theft of a large retailer’s database of millions of credit and debit card numbers should make everyone, even students, more careful about safeguarding their hard-earned money from cyber thieves. The following measures can help, according to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA).
Never provide personal information such as Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers in response to a phone call, fax, letter or email. If you get an email from a bank or company with which you do business, don’t click on any links in the email. The link may lead you to a fake web page run by thieves hoping you’ll enter personal information, or it may install spyware or malware on your computer. Instead, sign in through the website you normally use when you do business with that firm.
Never provide bank, credit card or other sensitive data when visiting a website that doesn’t explain how your personal information will be protected, including the use of encryption to safely transmit and store data.
If you’re using an ATM card or debit card, ensure no one standing nearby can see your personal identification number (PIN).
On your personal computer, install a free or low-cost firewall to stop intruders from gaining remote access to your PC. Download and frequently update security patches offered by your operating system and software vendors to correct weaknesses that a hacker could exploit.
To learn how to plan and prepare for higher education, go to www.gotocollege.ky.gov. For more information about Kentucky scholarships and grants, visit www.kheaa.com; write KHEAA, P.O. Box 798, Frankfort, KY 40602; or call 800-928-8926, ext. 6-7372.