5 ways for military families to stay safe online this PCS season


Posted: May 24, 2023 | Word Count: 830

Are you an active-duty service member or military spouse planning a permanent change of station? Now is the time to protect your family's information online.

A third of the military — nearly half a million families — make a PCS move every year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, active-duty service members are three times more likely to be victims of digital theft than the general public.

While financial and identity theft can happen any time of year, military families are especially vulnerable when moving for a permanent change of station. Anyone managing a move risks sensitive data being stolen. In fact, personal information is shuffled from one location to another, leaving it accessible to movers, family members, dumpster divers, real estate agents and home buyers, contractors, appraisers and more. That's why it's critical to be proactive and secure your digital lives before a move so you don't leave yourself open to digital attacks. Here are five ways to keep your family safe before, during and after relocation.

1. Don't overshare on social media.

You may be tempted to share the excitement of your move online, but doing so can make you vulnerable. Avoid sharing information about your family's relocation, or any personal information for that matter, on social media.

You may think sharing your new neighborhood, children's school or duty station is harmless, but cybercriminals can use these tidbits of information to steal your identity. Even when you've settled into your new home, stay vigilant. Use caution when sharing information like your location, favorite sports team, children's birthdays or any details that could help hackers guess your passwords.

2. Update passwords.

Speaking of passwords, you should update your passwords as you prepare to move. Even better, create complex passphrases with multiple digits, special characters and letters in various cases. Don't pick phrases a stranger could guess by looking at your social media or publicly available information.

Even if you have a strong passphrase, don't reuse it across multiple accounts. If a cybercriminal successfully breaches one of your accounts, they could use it to access the others with the same passphrase.

Finally, don't write your passwords or passphrases down digitally or on paper. To make it easier to remember your credentials and keep them secure, consider using a password manager, like Aura's, which alerts you when you need to change your password, if there has been a data leak or breach.

3. Keep track of your credit.

It's important to monitor your credit and bank statements for suspicious activity, especially if you're in the military. The FTC found that active-duty service members report problems with debt collectors and credit bureaus at more than twice the rate of other adults.

If you haven't already, set up active-duty credit alerts with any of the three credit bureaus. This encourages lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity, making it more difficult for bad actors to open new credit lines in your name.

If you want to be extra safe, freeze your credit when you move so you don't have to worry about it as you navigate your permanent change of station. If you see anything unusual, take action immediately.

4. Have "the digital talk" with your children.

According to Ipsos research, 21% of parents surveyed have never started a conversation with their children about online safety. However, those same parents were concerned that their children would be tricked into sending money to someone online (30%), ordering or over-ordering food (22%), making unauthorized purchases (31%) or spending money on online games without their consent (35%).

If you haven't talked with your children about online safety, or it's been a while since your last conversation, make sure to discuss it with them before your move. Set an example and talk with your children about online safety. Highlight the importance of keeping personal information private and not sharing it with strangers or on social media. Beyond identity theft, sharing information like where they go to school or where they frequently hang out can allow predators to stalk them.

5. Explore digital security solutions.

Simplify your digital safety before your move and beyond by exploring digital security solutions. Consider signing up for an all-in-one online security platform like Aura. This easy-to-use security solution keeps your and your family's personal information, devices and finances safe from online threats.

Aura offers everything you need to proactively control your digital life and keep your finances and identity safe and secure. This includes lost wallet recovery, antivirus, VPN, multi-device protection and monitoring for credit, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, home and title use, and criminal and court records.

To thank military members, Veterans and their families for their service, Aura offers up to 50% off its protection plans, starting with a two-week free trial. Learn more by visiting https://aura.com/military.

Don't wait for cybercriminals to strike. Using these five tips, you can help your family stay safe online before, during and after your permanent change of station.

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