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One Step Ahead: Almanac Security Tips - 2014

In each issue, Penn's Journal of Record, The Almanac publishes helpful tips and hints for dealing with information security and privacy matters. This page is a collection of all those published thus far.
New! You can now receive new One-Step-Ahead Security and Privacy Tips automatically!
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Table of Contents (view all)

Filing Taxes Online This Year? Take Steps to Protect Your Information!
If your computer runs Windows XP, you must update it now!
Why Should You Report Security Incidents? And How Do You Report One?
Photo and Video Privacy Issues
The Password is Dead, Long Live the Password!
Data Privacy Month: NSA Surveillance Panel at the National Constitution Center
Protecting Your Finances During This Year’s Holiday Shopping Season
Beware of Phishing E-mails in the Wake of Typhoon Haiyan
No E-mail from Penn Will Ask For Your Username/Password or SSN
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act: Does It Apply to Your Website?
October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month; Free Secure Disposal of Paper and Electronics
What Basic Rules Protect Student Information at Penn? (September 2013)
Protecting Privacy and Security on Penn + Box
Security Starts With You
New Regulatory Changes: Do They Apply to Your Area?


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Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - Almanac Vol. 55, No. 15

Holiday Shopping, Credit Cards & Credit Reports: "Free" Isn't Always Free

Even as we hear of a “credit crunch” around the world, it’s likely that once again the holiday season will see Americans’ credit card balances reach their annual peak. Before going online or heading out to the malls, it’s worth pausing to consider some basic security measures when using credit cards:

  • When shopping online, be sure that you’re using a “secure server” site (check for “https:” in the URL and/or a “locked padlock” icon in the browser frame).
  • In stores, watch to see if credit cards are taken away from the counter and/or out of the customer’s sight while purchases are being authorized. If you can’t see your card or the clerk, you don’t know if your card information is being written down surreptitiously.
  • Many security experts suggest using credit cards instead of debit cards. The maximum liability for unauthorized charges on a credit card is $50. The liability for unauthorized use of a debit card can be much higher, depending upon when you report the loss.
  • Likewise, experts suggest that, provided you observe basic precautions as mentioned above, using credit cards is safer than writing checks, which can easily be altered to change the payee and amount. If you do find yourself writing checks, use a pen with pigment-based rather than water-based ink, and either write the payee name yourself or ask that the store stamp be applied in your presence.

A final caution in these times of heightened credit awareness: under Federal law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. For the report to be truly free, without qualification, you must visit www.annualcreditreport.com, NOT www.freecreditreport.com.

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