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How Not To Get Locked Out Of Facebook And Other Online Accounts

“Hi, Scott.  I need your help,” the voice on the other end of the line greets.

“I’m locked out of my Facebook account and can’t get back in because I don’t remember my password.  Can you help me?”

While I happily try to assist, I know the chances for success are extremely low.

Facebook, Google and most other online services do not have a phone number you can call, speak to a live person, and have them reset your password.

Instead, your only option is to rummage through their web-based help documentation, submit an online form, and hope the requested information you provided is sufficient for someone to eventually send you instructions on how to get back into your account.

The majority of the time, this fails.

Why Account Recovery Fails

All online services provide you an easy way to recover lost passwords or regain access to your account.  The account recovery process typically involves sending an email to your email address or a text message to your cell phone.

So what’s the problem?

Most people never set up their recovery information in Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, Amazon, and other commonly used websites.

Those who did when they first created their account seldom update their recovery information when their email address or phone numbers change.

How To Set Up Recovery Information

Each platform differs slightly in how to set up your account recovery information.  Here are links to instructions on how to do so on some of the most common websites:

Don’t Wait!

Avoid the frustration of forever losing access to your online accounts.  Invest a few minutes right now to take these important steps:

  • If you don’t already have a second email address, set up an alternate email address with Gmail (www.gmail.com).
  • Log in to each of your online accounts (Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, etc.).  Configure your recovery options in each of them.
  • Associate your cell phone number, if you have one, with the account.
  • Set periodic reminders to make sure your account recover information is kept current.

 

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You Can Avoid Becoming A Victim

Fraud

“Hi, Scott. I need to give you my new credit card information. My old card got hacked, so the bank sent me a new one.”

I receive calls like this almost every week from clients who have recurring transactions set up with us.

Scams, fraud and identity theft are on the rise. A sad reality of the 21st century.

Did you know …

  • 13.1 million U.S. consumers lost almost $15 billion because of identity theft in 2015, according to a Javelin Strategy and Research study conducted last year?
  • credit card fraud could jump from $4 billion to $10 billion by 2020, according to a February 2016 CNBC report?

All this is despite the advances in new security features, like the EMV chips in debit and credit cards.

If you haven’t been the victim of a computer scam, fraudulent bank or credit card use, or identity theft, you probably know someone who has. The negative effects cause incredible frustration, cost hours of lost time, and results in the loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Becoming aware of how scammers, cybercriminals, and identity thieves work and knowing how you can protect yourself is critical in this age.

In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, March 5 through 11, I’d like to provide you with this information. But I would need considerably more space than what I’m graciously given here in this column.

So I’ve created a new three-part video series where I share practical and little-known consumer safety tips.

These tips provide you the knowledge you need to be a smart consumer, even when scammers catch you off guard. Armed with this information, you’ll avoid falling victim to scams, identity theft, and fraud.

Common Computer Scams
In the first video, I’ll teach you how to quickly and easily identify the three most common computer scams. Some are blatantly obvious, yet many people fall hook-line-and-sinker for them. After watching this video, you won’t be one of those people.

How Identity Thieves Work
In the second video, I’ll describe some of the sneaky ways identity thieves steal your personal information. It’s not just through your computer, either. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is for these criminals to go undetected and how at-risk your privacy is.

How to Protect Yourself
In the final video, I’ll give you 10 specific actions you must take to protect yourself – in both the physical and digital worlds. You’ll be given the steps, resources, and tools necessary to keep your personal and financial information as secure as possible.

You can sign up to view the videos for free at on the home page of this website – www.calibreforhome.com.

I promise I’m not going to try to sell you anything, and I won’t be filling your email inbox with useless junk messages.

I simply want to help combat the growing trend of fraud and identity theft. The best way for me to do that is by sharing with you what I’ve learned as I deal with it on a daily basis.

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Is Facebook Causing You To Be Depressed?

Social Media Depression

How many minutes each day do you spend scrolling through your Facebook news feed?

What about your kids or grandkids?  How much time do they devote to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat?

Have you ever stopped to think about how you feel or observed your kids’/grandkids’ demeanor after being on social media?

A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology reports, “People feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel bad when comparing themselves to others.”

 

What constitutes a great deal of time? 

Only you can decide that, but consider these statistics.

Facebook boasts its 1.65 billion active monthly users fritter away an average of 50 minutes every day on its platforms.

The Social Skinny reports fifty percent of 18 to 24 year olds go on Facebook as soon as they wake up!

It’s practically impossible to refrain from social media sites because it’s accessible on every computer and mobile device we own.  (And yes, Facebook is open on my computer as I write this column.)

 

Social Comparison Theory

It’s human nature to see how our lives and experiences compare to those of others.  We determine our progress or success in life by seeing how we match up against others.  Psychologists call this the social comparison theory.

Although it’s a natural tendency, and even though we know that using social media could cause us to be depressed, anxious, jealous, or even angry, you and I still give in to the urge and scroll through Facebook looking to see what other people’s lives are like in comparison to ours.

Writer Jamie Friedlander says, “We used to compare ourselves to how we saw people at family gatherings or in the office.  Now we compare ourselves to perfectly crafted (and sometimes exaggerated) representations of people’s lives – without seeing the engagement ring that doesn’t fit, the sunburn while surfing in Costa Rica, the less-than-stellar salary at the new job or the anxiety that comes with having a newborn baby.  We see exactly what they want us to see.”

 

One-Upping the Joneses

Facebook and other similar sites have evolved into seeing who can impress others the most.  Much content shared on social media is carefully crafted to present the best possible representations of us and/or our situations.

Even mundane daily life can be scripted to be thrilling and exciting – all with the intention of giving others the impression our life is better than what it really is.

On the flip side, seeing others’ carefully crafted posts can make us feel inferior, less than perfect, or like we’re missing out.

 

Keeping Social Media in Check

So what can you do to prevent social media from dragging you or your kids into the doldrums and depression?

First and foremost, “People need to learn to take other people’s social media posts with a grain of salt and recognize that it represents how people want to share their experience.  All the facts are not there,” advises Karen North, Ph.D, a clinical professor of communication and the director of the digital and social media at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Second, be gracious towards the successes of others.  Make a conscious decision to not become jealous or envious.  Rather, congratulate them and be thankful for what you do have in your life.

Finally, take a break from social media.  A technology detox helps us reconnect with people around us, experience greater peace, calms our mind, and improves our ability to think and feel.

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What’s Your Password?

Forgot Password

“I changed all my passwords to ‘incorrect.’  So whenever I forget, it will tell me: ‘Your password is incorrect.’”

Memes like this provide much-needed laughter about passwords.  Otherwise, trying to create and remember complex passwords for nearly every website you visit causes you to cry in frustration.

Have you ever forgotten your password for Facebook or your email account?

You’re not alone if you have.  Over the past month, an increasing number of clients solicited my help to recover or reset forgotten passwords.

The Mistake Most People Make

Web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer offer to remember your passwords for all your websites.  You let them and you never have to type in your password again for that website.  It conveniently fills in your username and password each time you visit the page.

The problem occurs when your web browser must be reset.  Resetting your web browser can cause Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer to forget your saved passwords.

Then when you visit a site like Facebook, you must enter your username and password.

But because the only place your password was stored was in the web browser, you can’t log in. 

Thus begins the arduous and sometimes impossible task of resetting your password by answering security questions or replying to recovery emails.

Keep Your Accounts Up-To-Date

Resetting your forgotten password is much easier if you keep your email address and/or cell phone number up-to-date on various websites. 

Facebook, for example, allows you the option to have a code texted to your cell phone or a recovery email sent to your email address should you lose your password.  Within five minutes, you can create a new password and be on your merry way.

But some people I’ve assisted had an old email address or cell phone number configured in Facebook.  They also couldn’t remember their answers to their security questions.

The result:  forever locked out of that Facebook account.  Forced to create a new one, re-add all their friends, and start anew.

ACTION STEP:  Make sure your current email address and cell phone number are correctly configured as recovery options for all of your online accounts – Facebook, email, banking, credit cards, etc.

The Best Place to Store Your Passwords

Trying to remember zillions of different, complex passwords for different websites is mind-boggling.  Keeping an up-to-date written list is practically impossible.

That’s why I strongly encourage you to use a free password management program called LastPass (www.lastpass.com).

LastPass gives you:

  • Unlimited and secure storage for passwords and notes
  • Automatic backup of passwords
  • Automatic completion of login fields and forms

By installing a simple add-on to your web browser, you’ll have quick access to all of your passwords.  You can also store credit card numbers, license numbers, insurance information, and more.

You only have to remember one master password – the one you use to log in to LastPass.

LastPass will even detect when you change your password for a website and offer to automatically update it in the program.

For a measly $1 a month, you can upgrade to LastPass Premium and have access to your passwords on all your computers and mobile devices.

Please … if you don’t take any other advice I give, at least write down your passwords in a notebook.  Better yet, put them in LastPass.

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Olympic Shackles: Be Careful About Social Media Posts

Olympics Social Media

 

I found myself wildly shouting at my television the other night cheering on Lilly King, the West Side Evansville native and Olympic newcomer, as she neared the end of her race.

She, of course, took the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke competition.

But I couldn’t post any congratulations on any of the Calibre Computer Solutions’ social media channels – unless I wanted the strong arm of the International Olympic Committee’s legal team threatening me.

Millions of people watch the Olympics.  It’s a hot topic of discussion almost everywhere you go.

Businesses naturally want to tie into Olympic fever.  But all companies, even small town shops, have to be extremely careful about how and what they communicate.

The United States Olympic Committee warns: “Do not create social media posts that are Olympic themed, that feature Olympic trademarks, that contain Games imagery or congratulate Olympic performance unless you are an official sponsor as specified in the Social Media Section.”

Violations will most likely get you a letter demanding you remove such content.  Failure to do so could result in costly legal action against your business.

Adweek Magazine recently published a summary of forbidden activity by businesses during the Olympics:

  1. Businesses can’t use any of the Olympics’ trademarked words or phrases.These terms include:
  • Olympic
  • Olympian
  • Team USA
  • Future Olympian
  • Gateway to gold
  • Go for the gold
  • Let the games begin
  • Paralympic
  • Pan Am Games
  • Olympiad
  • Paralympiad
  • Pan-American
  1. You can’t use terms that reference the location of the Olympics, such as:
  • Road to Rio
  • Road to Pyeongchang
  • Road to Tokyo
  • Rio 2016
  • Pyeongchang 2018
  • Tokyo 2020
  1. You must not use words that incorporate the word “Olympic,” such as Mathlympics, Aqualympics, Chicagolympics, Radiolympics, etc.
  2. You can’t use hashtags that include Olympics trademarks such as #TeamUSA or #Rio2016.
  3. You cannot use any official Olympics logos.
  4. You cannot post any photos taken at the Olympics.
  5. You can’t feature Olympic athletes in your social posts.
  6. You can’t even wish them luck.
  7. Don’t post any Olympics results.
  8. You can’t share anything from official Olympics social media accounts. Even retweets are prohibited.
  9. No creating your own version of Olympic symbols, “whether made from your own logo, triangles, hexagons, soda bottle tops, onion rings, car tires, drink coasters, basketballs, etc.”
  10. “Do not host an Olympic- or Paralympic-themed contest or team-building event for employees.”

 

Some businesses, like Seattle-based Brooks Running Company, who sponsors a dozen Olympic athletes, find ways to creatively challenge the IOC’s rules. 

In July at the Olympic track and field trials in Oregon, Brooks hired trucks to drive around with generic messages that read “Good luck, you know who you are, on making it you know where.”

So how can your business join in on the popularity of the Olympics?

Experts advise, “Very carefully.”  Think creatively and outside the box.

What do you think of the IOC’s stringent rules?  Send me an email at feedback@calibre-cs.com.

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Stop Spreading Falsehoods!

 

It’s that time of year again.

Where the leaves change to multicolored bright, beautiful hues.

Where the cool, crisp air of early mornings slaps you awake as you walk to your car.

Where the dreaded sinus and allergies cause nagging headaches, runny noses, scratchy throats and annoying coughing spells.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last Sunday night, I thought I’d finally discovered the Holy Grail remedy to alleviate future coughing spells.

One of my friends shared the following image with one of her family members who must be suffering from this common discomfort.

Urban Legend

Pineapple juice sounds much tastier than Robitussin. If it can also fight infections and bacteria, this sounds like THE antidote to keep stocked up on this winter.

But like many of these images plastered all over Facebook and incessantly forwarded through email, it’s simply a myth.

My friend, like most others who use social media, fell victim to propagating falsehoods without recognizing the tell-tale signs of an urban legend or doing appropriate research.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when I see factually inaccurate or completely false information spread like wildfire across Facebook, email and other social platforms. Whether it is a home “remedy” for an ailment or political facts taken out of context, it drives me crazy.

How can you identify an urban legend, myth or factually inaccurate statement?

First, it sounds too good to be true.

In the image above, it says “pineapple juice is 500% more effective.” Large numbers usually indicate an exaggeration.

You’ve got to be skeptical.

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, hear on the radio, watch on TV, or otherwise.

Second, its source cannot be identified.

No reliable source of the information about the pineapple juice is provided in the picture, so that should at minimum prompt the question – Who verified this information?

Another friend posted on Facebook yesterday a myth about a virus spreading that targets Android phones. His post, which he had copied and pasted, said “and I heard this on a local radio station.”

Truth was, he didn’t hear it on the radio. And whomever he copied it from hadn’t either. No radio station was ever identified on which the “news” had been announced.

If a source is provided, evaluate its reliability and verify it.

What can you do to stop spreading falsehoods on the Internet?

Stop! Research! Then Post!

It’s all too easy to read something intriguing then click the Share button on Facebook or the Forward button in our email and blast it to everyone you know.

Ask yourself questions about what you read:
• Does this sound too good to be true?
• Do the numbers make sense?
• Where did this information come from?
• Can it be verified?
• Is it a trustworthy source?
• Is it taken out of context?

Do your homework by spending a few minutes researching trustworthy resources on the Internet.

Snopes.com is an excellent site that debunks many of the urban legends and myths seen online. Its team of writers thoroughly digs into the sources and facts of commonly shared posts, emails, and pictures and provides a summary supporting or disproving it.

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to check the facts and determined it’s truthful and useful to others, then and ONLY THEN feel free to share with your friends and family. Otherwise, keep on scrolling!

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Control Your Facebook News Feed With The New “See First” Feature

Facebook

 

Have you ever gotten frustrated scrolling through your Facebook news feed because it’s cluttered with pictures and posts from people you hardly know or talk to?

And you can’t easily find the recipe Aunt Sally posted that the rest of your family is talking about?

Wouldn’t it be nice to always see weather alerts, sports updates, and community updates from pages like Gibson County Communique, Wabash Valley Weather Alerts, and the South Gibson Star-Times?

Over the years, Facebook has tried to understand who and what you prefer to see when you log in.  But their best efforts using complex algorithms have fallen short.

But now, Mark Zuckerberg’s development team may have finally created a feature that truly works.  It makes sense too because it lets YOU decide what you want to see – to a degree.

The new feature is called “See First.”  It allows you to identify the people and pages whose status updates you determine are of higher priority than everyone else in your Facebook world.

For example, you may always want to see updates from your family members.  Maybe you want to stay abreast of the latest news or financial information shared by certain media outlets.

“See First” allows you to select those individuals and pages whose posts you want to never miss.

Of course, you’ll still see pictures and updates from other people on your friends list, but you may not see everything.  (Facebook hasn’t fully revealed how this new feature works.)

How do you set up the “See First” feature on your Facebook account?  It’s simple!

  • Log in to Facebook on your desktop or laptop computer.
  • Click on the blue down arrow located at the far right of the blue bar across the top of your Facebook page. You will see a drop-down menu of options.
  • Click on “News Feed Preferences.” A new window will open.
  • Click on “Prioritize who to see first.” You will see all of the Facebook pages you have liked, people you have followed, and people who are your Facebook friends.  They appear in no particular order.
  • Click on the picture of the friend or page whose posts you always want to see at the top of your news feed. A white star in a blue circle indicates you have selected them.

    If you ever wish to remove a person or page from your priority list, simply click the picture on this screen to remove the white star in the blue circle.

  • Click the Done button after you have finished making your selections.
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How to Stop Those Annoying Facebook Game Requests

Have you ever read a Facebook friend’s status that screamed, “STOP SENDING ME REQUESTS TO PLAY YOUR FACEBOOK GAME!”?  Or maybe they’ve said, not so bluntly, “I don’t care that you’ve reached level 2,567,894 in FarmVille!  Stop asking me to play it.  I don’t want to!”

For those of us that simply use Facebook as a means to communicate with friends and family, the constant barrage of game and app requests becomes tiresome.

Here are 5 simple steps to block app requests from repeatedly appearing in your notifications area.  NOTE:  You will need to follow these steps for every game or app request you receive.  But once you complete it for that particular game or app, that one should not appear again.

Step 1

Click on the App Center link (see Figure 1).  This link is located on the left side of your Facebook news feed toward the bottom.

Facebook01

Step 2

Click on the Requests link (see Figure 2).  This link is located on the left side of the App Center menu toward the bottom.

Facebook02

Step 3

In the middle of your screen, you will then see a list of all games and apps your Facebook friends have invited you to try.  To block the app, click on the “X” to the right of the game’s title (see Figure 3).

Facebook03

Step 4

Below the app request, an option box will appear.  You want to click on the option that says, “Block (whatever the apps name is).”  (See Figure 4).

Facebook04

Step 5

A final confirmation box (see Figure 5) should appear on your screen advising you that you will no longer receive invitations from others about that particular app.  Simply click “OK” and the box will close.

Facebook05

Following this simple process will quickly dwindle the number of annoying app requests you are notified about each time you log in to Facebook.  Now back to the important reason we’re all on Facebook – to be nosey about what everyone else is thinking and doing!

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3 Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook

Facebook undoubtedly is the greatest social networking tool created.  It has allowed millions of people the ability to easily and regularly connect with friends and family – no matter how far away they are.

Such platforms make it extremely easy to let down our guard and willingly divulge personal information without thinking about who may see it and how it may be used by others, and in turn, how doing so may impact us.

Two weeks ago in this column, I shared some alarming statistics and other details about how Facebook gathers information on you and how various individuals and groups use this information.  Today, I want to provide you three practical ways to protect your privacy on Facebook.

 1.      THINK before you type

Facebook allows you to share a wealth of personal details – your birthdate, relationship status, religious and political views, work and education history, where you live and more.  You need to ask yourself, how important is it that I share this information?  If you decide to share this information, you need to think about how much detail you wish to share – knowing that it can be used by less than honest people.

It’s also very easy to post a status update or upload a photo “off the cuff.”  However, you need to think about WHO can see your post and WHAT potential effects it could have.  For example, if you announce that you’re enjoying a weekend out of town, that could let the wrong people know that your house is empty and an easy target.

Remember, too, that even if you delete something from Facebook, it can remain stored on their servers for up to 90 days.

 2.      Understand you’ve agreed to how Facebook uses your information

When you created your Facebook account, you agreed to certain terms and conditions on how Facebook can use the things you share on the site.  For example:

  • Facebook can use any photos and videos you post in any way they wish without your approval.
  • Deleting any content does not mean that all copies of it are immediately removed from Facebook’s servers.
  • When you use an application within Facebook (such as Farmville or Birthday Calendar), you give the developer of that application access to and use of certain information contained in your profile, as well as potentially information from your friends’ profiles.

Knowing what Facebook and others can do with your information – always abide by Rule #1 – THINK BEFORE YOU POST!

For full Facebook terms and conditions, visit http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms.

 3.      Set and regularly review your privacy settings

Limiting who can see certain information about you, who can find you on Facebook, and more requires you to modify the default Facebook privacy settings.

You should take about 30 to 45 minutes to review and change the privacy settings to your liking.  You can download a step-by-step guide to help you choose the right settings by visiting our website at https://www.calibreforhome.com/facebookprivacy.

Once you’ve set your privacy settings, you can’t simply forget about it.  Facebook constantly changes its site, which can affect how your information is shared.  I recommend reviewing your settings at least every other month to make sure your information stays locked down.

Above all, remember Rule #1 – THINK BEFORE YOU POST!  Just because you’ve set your privacy settings does NOT mean that you are completely protected from having personal information shared with others who shouldn’t see it.  You cannot completely lock down what you post or provide on Facebook.

In closing, while Facebook is a valuable and entertaining platform for interacting with others, you must always be on guard with how you use it and what information you share on it.

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What information are YOU sharing on Facebook?

Facebook. It’s the most popular hangout on the Internet – ranking #1 globally and #2 in the United States among the most visited websites.

The ability to “spy” on your Facebook friends can be rather interesting and humorous. Most people share way more about their personal lives and thoughts in this online forum than they would in normal day-to-day conversation. We know more about others than ever before.

But what people knowingly share on Facebook pales in comparison to the exorbitant amount of personal information collected behind-the-scenes by Facebook and other Internet sites. This raises serious questions about your online privacy: What information is being collected?  How is it being used?  Could it fall into the wrong hands?

In this two-part series, we will briefly examine the facts about your privacy on the Internet, followed by providing practical ways you can protect your personal information while still using the social networking sites.

A recent study by Consumer Reports found that:

  • 4.7 million people “liked” a Facebook page about health conditions or treatments (details an insurer might use against you)
  • 4.8 million have posted on Facebook where they planned to go on a certain day (a potential tip-off for burglars)
  • 20.4 million include their birth date on their profiles (can be used by identity thieves)
  • 900,000 discussed finances on their wall
  • 2.6 million discussed their recreational use of alcohol on their wall (can be used by employers and schools)
  • 4.6 million discussed their love life on their wall

This information is willingly provided by Facebook users through status updates, uploaded pictures, comments, and profile details. Most of it doesn’t require special access for others to see it – considering that 28 percent of all Facebook users share all, or almost all, of their wall posts with people other than just their friends.

And others DO use the information you post.

Employers, insurance companies and college admissions departments regularly check Facebook to obtain information on potential employees, insureds, or students. What they find can be used to make a determination about you.

Government agencies, such as the IRS, use Facebook as a research tool in resolving taxpayer cases. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy and consumer rights group, obtained a 2009 training manual that offered this example of how an agent could use Facebook:  “An IRS officer learns that a taxpayer he’s investigating is a comedian who posts a video on a social network to promote previous and upcoming performances. It suggests the agent contact past performance locations to find out how much the comedian was paid or serve the performer a summons at a future venue.”

As mentioned before, criminals and enemies can also use information you post against you.

However, did you know that …

  • Facebook receives a report every time you visit a site with a Facebook “Like” button – even if you never click the button or are not even logged in to Facebook?
  • Your personal information could be given to a third-party without your knowledge if you have a friend using a Facebook app that extracts that data – even if you have locked down your privacy settings?
  • Facebook uses facial recognition software that detects your face in photos, allowing friends to easily tag you – and this is automatically allowed by default?

Sites like Facebook have a reason for collecting this vast amount of information on you. It’s valuable.

Companies appreciate having this detailed market research readily available to them at a very low cost. They use this information to target consumers who are most likely to buy their products or services.

While Facebook doesn’t give these companies your information without your consent, when you click on an ad, “like” a page, or make a purchase, you may be giving them access to more information than you think.

It’s a scary world out there. Because the Internet is an integral part of our daily lives, avoiding it really isn’t an option – especially if you’ve already joined the over 900 million Facebook users.

In the next column, I’ll provide practical steps you can take to protect your privacy and personal information.