Residentswho use Yahoo Mail are being encouraged by the S.C. Department of ConsumerAffairs to take action to securetheir online accounts following the announcement last month of a massivebreach.

Duringthe last two weeks of September, Yahoo announced that at least 500 million useraccounts had been compromised.

Aninvestigation by Yahoo following suspicions of an attack in July uncovered afar larger, allegedly state-sponsored attack in recent weeks, according to theAssociated Press.

“Wetake these types of breaches very seriously and will determine how thisoccurred and who is responsible,” the FBI said in a statement last week.

Giventhe importance most people place on protecting personal information, theDepartment of Consumer Affairs is encouraging Yahoo Mail users to take actionby following several tips, said Megan Stockhausen, communications coordinatorwith the agency.

•Change the account password and security questions immediately. Use strong,creative passwords (uppercase, lowercase and special characters) and don’tshare them with anyone. Also, don’t use the same passwords or securityquestions for multiple accounts, especially when using an email address as thelogin name on a site.

•Watch out for phishing attempts, which is defined by asking for personal orsensitive information via a phone call, text or email is a tactic used byscammers. Never reply to texts, pop-ups, or emails that ask for verification ofpersonal information. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments fromsuspicious emails or texts.

•Closely monitor financial and benefits statements/accounts. Check all monthlystatements and account activity, especially for financial accounts saved aspayment options on internet merchant sites.

Reviewthem carefully and notify the financial institution/provider as soon as anunauthorized or suspicious item is spotted.

•Consider a fraudalert and security freeze. Scammers may use the stolen information to open newaccounts.

Afraud alert and security freeze are free security measures for a credit report.A fraud alert tells a business accessing the report to take extra steps toverify that the person holding the account is the one seeking its goods/services.

Whena security freeze is in place, no one can access the report without the accountholder approving it.

Stockhausensaid these tips can help anyone trying to secure any personal onlineinformation.