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Top 10 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Online shopping is definitely convenient, but it does come with risks. Cybersecurity is essential to protect your information, and it includes a wide range of practices and technology to protect networks, systems, and data from cyber criminals and threats. Since just about everything we do is digital, cybersecurity is essential. From phishing scams to malware, here are ten simple things you can do to help protect yourself.

Young man using laptop at home.

  1. Keep Security Programs Running and Your Computer Up to Date
  2. Install anti-virus software to protect against malware (malicious software) that can steal information like account numbers and passwords, and use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Keeping your phones and other devices up to date means you'll get the newest patches as they become available, so your devices stay protected.

  3. Don't Conduct Private Business on Public Wi-Fi
  4. Public Wi-Fi networks and computers at places like libraries or hotel business centers can be risky if they don't have up-to-date security software. Even if they do, using public Wi-Fi can make you an easy target because they don't encrypt your data. So, if you're thinking about logging in to check your bank account balance or credit report, wait until you're at home to use private Wi-Fi or your phone's data instead.

  5. Strong Passwords
  6. Strong passwords have at least eight characters, including upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Never use your first or last name, pet's or children's names, sequential numbers, or birthdates, and never reuse passwords. If you want to see how strong your password really is, you can enter it into our password strength testing tool and see where it falls on the strength scale. If keeping track of all those passwords sounds like a lot to remember, consider using a secure password manager to keep track for you.

  7. Look Out for Phishing Emails and Scams
  8. Cybercriminals are good at creating fake emails that look legit but can install malware. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources asking for login information or to confirm credentials. Check email addresses to ensure emails, texts, and phone calls come from legitimate senders. If in doubt, don't click, and beware of any messaging that asks you to act immediately. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. As a reminder, WaFd Bank will never call or send you unsolicited emails or texts asking you to provide any personal information, including your account number. When in doubt, always contact us and other companies using information you get directly from their site or in person.

  9. Keep Personal Information Personal
  10. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out passwords and answers to security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting birthdays, addresses, mother's maiden name, and similar information. This includes "fun" posts you might see on social media, such as ones asking everyone to share their first pet's name or their favorite song in high school. These are likely thinly veiled ploys to help fraudsters guess answers to security questions so they can reset your password and hack into your accounts. And, be wary of requests to connect from people you don't know, especially those asking for personal information.

  11. Privacy and Cookie Policies
  12. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don't see or understand a site's privacy policy, it may be best to do business elsewhere. Some sites will collect and then sell your information, which is partly how you get seemingly random ads, emails, or phone calls.

  13. Set Alerts and Keep Your Phone Secure
  14. Set up alerts and get notified when your cards are used in an unusual location or a transaction is over a certain dollar amount. Reviewing your monthly statements and confirming that you made the purchases listed is also important. You can also log in and review recent transactions in your banking app. Remember, if you find charges on your statement or online activity you don't recognize, contact your bank or credit card issuer as soon as possible to report them and request a new card with a new account number, thus blocking further charges on the card.

  15. Watch for Fake Websites and Social Pages
  16. Scammers will set up fake domain names that are just a letter or two off from popular sites and even (illegally) use well-known company logos to try to fool people. If you find a great deal on a website you've never heard about before, always ask around and do your research before buying. The Better Business Bureau's easy online search function is a helpful starting point. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you see one of these deals or a supposed contest, sweepstakes, or giveaway, report it directly to the company. That way, you can help remove the page or website, and if it is legitimate, you can participate if you'd like to.

  17. Talk to Kids About Internet Safety.
  18. Talk to all the kids in your life about being safe online, including the risks of sharing personal information with people they don't know, and make sure the devices they use to connect to the internet have up-to-date security and parental controls in place. The internet is not kid-friendly, so the more kids learn to spot unsafe requests and behaviors online, the better.

  19. Keep Up to Date on the Latest Scams
  20. More and more are popping up every day, but they all have some common themes, including asking you to act now or presenting you with a huge problem that must be resolved immediately. More on this in our blog, How to Identify Scams and Prevent Them. The biggest thing to remember is that whatever is happening, you should always have time to stop and think. Close the email (without clicking on anything), hang up the phone, or step away and think through the details. If something feels off, it probably is! You can also use our scam checker coach to walk you through questions to help you see if something is a scam.

For More Help or Information on Cybersecurity

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has computer and Internet security tips, including tips for small businesses. Check out the basics of cybersecurity awareness at, which includes consumer information about protecting and maintaining computer systems and information. It also has information for business owners on safeguarding their systems and data.

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

Our friendly bankers are here to help you keep your money and your good name safe with products and services to make banking easy. WaFd is also here for any questions about scams, money, and more, and no question is too small. We also offer checking accounts that come with rewards to help you save money and stay on top of your finances. To learn more, take a look at our checking account options, open an account online, stop by your local branch, or give us a call at 800-324-9375.

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