Have you been hacked?  Have you been cracked? Have you been stolen?

Friends sending you strange emails? Seeing some strange postings on your friends Facebook pages? Have your friends and family been sending you emails asking you about stuff you didn't send?  

Well.....it's time to change your passwords.....that's right I pluralized it. You need to change ALL of them. It might not be a virus on your computer, it might be that someone hacked your email password. The hacker could have requested a new or reset password for any of your accounts that use your email address. The hacker could have gotten valuable information from any of your social networking accounts or even from a resume you may have posted on-line.  

Is it worth risking all of your accounts, all of your personal information and all of your money just to NOT change a password?

A few thoughts when you get ready to change your password:
      1.  Don't just 'tweak' the password you are currently using
      2.  Write down all of the places you can think of where you have an account
      3.  Call all of the major accounts - banks, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Ask if there has been any activity on your account, specifically password changes or requests.
      4.  Speak with your banks fraud and/or identity theft department. See what they recommend.
      5.  File a report with your local police department. This is for your future reference as well as trend tracking by the police department.
      6.  Let your friend know to delete all of those emails that came from you with links and       attachments in them.

The holidays are the biggest time for fraudulent use of credit cards and bank accounts. Be wary of anyone that takes your card out of view. Be wary of anyone that is operating a phone in view of your credit card -- it is very easy to sneak a pic of your credit card and then they have your number for later.

Shred or burn all of your paper trash that has any personal information on it -- no matter how innocent it might seem.  

And most of all be careful with social networking sites. Be wary of what you share on social networking sites. Be wary of who you share with on social networking sites. You might be surprised at what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with. If you are unsure of how to set your own privacy settings, use the website's search tool. If that doesn't help you much, then use Google to search for how to set privacy settings on your social networking site(s) of choice.

These are good rules to use during the holiday season, but they should also become part of your every day life!  Have a happy and safe holiday season... and a happy and safe after holiday season too!

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