Attorney General Fox Encourages Montanans to Review On-Line Safety

Attorney General Tim Fox invites Montanans to join internet users and organizations across the United States and around the world to celebrate Safer Internet Day on February 7.  This is the fifth year Safer Internet Day has been recognized in the United States, and Attorney General Fox is marking the occasion with a new public service announcement (PSA) detailing several ways to stay safe online.

“Today’s technology keeps us constantly connected, whether we are on our computers at work, our tablets at home, or our smartphones when out and about,” said Attorney General Tim Fox.  “While that increased connectivity lets us do wonderful things like find highly-rated restaurants in new cities, or video-chat with our loved ones who live far away, it can also give scammers a point of access to our personal information and accounts.”

The new PSA is designed to increase public awareness that a safe and positive internet experience depends on us all.  Montana consumers can make a few simple adjustments to their online habits to make every day a safer internet day, including:

• Know who you’re dealing with – ID thieves can pose as anyone online or over the phone.  If you have doubts about the legitimacy of the person on the other end of the line, end the conversation and contact the organization in a way you trust, like calling them at the phone number listed on your billing statement, or on their website.  Don’t follow the link in a suspicious email.
• Take advantage of privacy settings – businesses, websites and apps often have different levels of account privacy and security to choose from.  Learn what your choices are, and employ the setting you feel comfortable with.
• Think before you share – limit information that could be used to steal your identity or answer security questions on your accounts, such as your date and place of birth, a detailed work history and other personally identifying material.  This applies to sites for business networking, too.  Also refrain from posting status updates or photos that share your location, especially if you’re out of town.  You don’t want to advertise that your house is unattended and make it a possible target for burglars.
• Report dangerous behavior – posts on social media run the gamut from light and funny to serious and personal.  If someone is making aggressive posts or comments, or writing that he or she plans to commit an act of violence in real life, assess the situation.  If you believe the threat is real and your or another person or people could be in danger, contact your law enforcement officials right away.
• Guard your personal information – credit card, bank account and social security numbers can be stolen online, or from documents your throw out.  Shred or destroy any forms that contain personal identifying information when you dispose of them. This includes old tax documents, prescriptions, receipts, bank deposit slips, pay stubs, expired credit cards, insurance policies, and credit card applications.

For more tips, visit the Montana Office of Consumer Protection online at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/identity-theft/.

The Safer Internet Day PSA is available to watch and share by clicking here.

NEXT STEPS:  To get updates on the latest scams and identity theft attempts affecting Montanans, sign up for Consumer Alerts through the Office of Consumer Protection.  To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form here.  You can also call to speak with an OCP investigator at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency.