Column in The Panther for April, 2004
By Lee C. Sonko
Our announcement email mailing list is still in the works. By the time you read this, it might be ready. Check out our web site, www.pvpoa.com to see!
You can now view The Panther on the internet. Just go to www.pvpoa.com/thepanther. We’re hoping to have several years of back issues online eventually. This will be a great historical site for The Valley.
The online calendar at the PVPOA web site has just been updated. It has all manner of important dates and times in a great, easy to read format. We are now using a snazzy computer program to help keep it current. Click on “Calendar” on the home page to check it out!
Identity theft is a very real problem. There was a good article about this in last month’s Panther. That article talked about protecting yourself on the street but not about protecting yourself online.
On the internet, you should always be sure of who you are talking to. I have gotten many fraudulent emails asking me to click on a link and sign-in to a service that I subscribe to. Of course, if I followed their instructions, the thieves would know my password and be able steal my identity on that service. If they stole my online banking password, they could steal a lot of money from me!
Those fraudulent emails often appear quite convincing. Here’s how to protect yourself:
– Be suspicious of any email that asks for sensitive information. It is trivially easy to make a forged email.
– When you go to a web site, make sure that it’s the site you think it is. Look in the “Address” bar on your web browser and verify that you’re at the correct web site. If you click on a link to what is supposed to be American Express, it should take you to http://www.americanexpress.com. If it takes you to a site you don’t recognize like http://188.8.131.52, then someone is trying to steal from you!
– When you go to a web site that deals with money like an online banking site or an online check-out page, always make sure your connection is “secure”. If it’s secure, then you can be sure that nobody is eavesdropping on your conversation. There are two things to look for to know if your connection is secure. The web address will start out “https” instead of the normal “http”. And in the lower right corner of the screen, there will be a little yellow padlock. . Look for them!
Keeping your password private is important. A lot of folks pick a good password but then they use the same password for everything. This is a bad idea because if that password ever gets found out, you could be in big trouble. But of course, keeping a different password for every service can be a bother; how are you supposed to remember them all? Here’s what I do. I have a simple system for creating passwords. I start out with a foundation password and then change it for every web site and company I deal with. My system is to take the first 3 letters of the company and append it to my foundation password. So my password for American Express might be “CompGAme”. So then my password for Paypal would be “CompGPay”. Fleet Bank would be “CompGFle”. Easy! Now a disgruntled employee at the EZ-Pass web site can’t find out my Fleet banking password.