Alert
Close

Help Decide the Future of Aging. Join the White House’s Live Stream From Cleveland Monday. Learn more

Privacy, Please!

Disabling cookies on your browser can help you from getting hacked

Dear Liz: I've just received an email notice from an online retailer warning me that my email address was "compromised." But it's not clear what the risk is or what I should do. Should I worry?

Yes. Ignoring these data breaches is a mistake. If your information was hacked, you are four times more likely to have your identity stolen the year after the breach than the general public is.

Sign up for the AARP Money Newsletter.

Even something as innocuous as a stolen email address puts you at risk, because criminals can use it to better target their attacks. A scammer could send you a fake email from your bank to trick you into handing over your account password.

That's why privacy advocates are so concerned about the vast amount of personal data that companies are collecting, both online and off. Our mobile phones map our location, loyalty cards reveal what we buy, and our Web-browsing habits are tracked by companies that sell the information to advertisers. Congress is considering "Do Not Track" legislation, which would allow Web users to opt out of data collecting. But for now it's up to you to keep your finances private.

To limit tracking, enable your browser's privacy setting, which prevents websites from installing "cookies" that can monitor your movements. (See the browser's "Help" menu for details.) Use different passwords for sites that require them, and change them every few months. Social media users should avoid revealing information that might be used in financial sites' security questions, such as birth date or maiden name. If you haven't already, tell your financial institutions you don't want them to share your info with other companies.

You may also like: Can you afford to play the lottery?

Liz Weston, author of The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy, blogs at asklizweston.com.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Credit safeguards with AARP® Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID®.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Man using cell phone outdoors

Members save on monthly service & usage fees and get free activation with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Advertisement

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.