For the first time in its three-decade history, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) has released a guide on internet privacy to help Illinois consumers prevent online crooks and scam artists from stealing their personal information, and their money.
Consumers can get a free copy of “Internet Privacy: A Guide to Protecting Yourself Online” emailed to them by clicking here.
CUB’s main focus is on reducing electric, gas and telecom bills. However, with major changes in the telecommunications industry sparked by the explosion of the internet, CUB saw a vital need for a publication that would sift through technical jargon and present an easy-to-understand introduction to online privacy.
“Our main objective is to fight high utility bills, but we’re always looking for new ways to protect consumers’ pocketbooks,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “Make no mistake privacy is a pocketbook issue. It used to be you could only get mugged on the street corner—now it can happen in your own home simply by logging in.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports that victims of internet-related crimes reported losing $1.3 billion in 2016. Illinois ranked sixth, with $32.9 million in reported losses.
CUB’s 14-page guide contains sections with commonsense tips on how to:
- Strengthen your online passwords;
- Identify fraudulent “phishing” emails that want to steal your personal information;
- Protect yourself from harmful pop-ups, imposter apps, and fake websites that might infect your computer with malicious software (malware). That can allow crooks to take over your computer and even monitor your typing activity to get passwords and other sensitive information.
The guide also has tips on how to avoid rip-offs and scams while shopping online this holiday season, how to better protect your privacy on Facebook, and it includes a section on key technical changes to strengthen your home network from hackers.