Residents who use Yahoo Mail are being encouraged by the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs to take action to secure their online accounts following the announcement last month of a massive breach.
During the last two weeks of September, Yahoo announced that at least 500 million user accounts had been compromised.
An investigation by Yahoo following suspicions of an attack in July uncovered a far larger, allegedly state-sponsored attack in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press.
“We take these types of breaches very seriously and will determine how this occurred and who is responsible,” the FBI said in a statement last week.
Given the importance most people place on protecting personal information, the Department of Consumer Affairs is encouraging Yahoo Mail users to take action by following several tips, said Megan Stockhausen, communications coordinator with the agency.
• Change the account password and security questions immediately. Use strong, creative passwords (uppercase, lowercase and special characters) and don’t share them with anyone. Also, don’t use the same passwords or security questions for multiple accounts, especially when using an email address as the login name on a site.
• Watch out for phishing attempts, which is defined by asking for personal or sensitive information via a phone call, text or email is a tactic used by scammers. Never reply to texts, pop-ups, or emails that ask for verification of personal information. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails or texts.
• Closely monitor financial and benefits statements/accounts. Check all monthly statements and account activity, especially for financial accounts saved as payment options on internet merchant sites.
Review them carefully and notify the financial institution/provider as soon as an unauthorized or suspicious item is spotted.
• Consider a fraud alert and security freeze. Scammers may use the stolen information to open new accounts.
A fraud 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 to verify that the person holding the account is the one seeking its goods/services.
When a security freeze is in place, no one can access the report without the account holder approving it.
Stockhausen said these tips can help anyone trying to secure any personal online information.