Consumer Alert: It’s time for spring cleaning, and that includes your digital footprint

Consumer Alert

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s officially spring and that means for many spring cleaning is underway.  But I’m not writing about your baseboards and windows. I’m talking about cleaning up your digital footprint.

Here are the facts: In 2020, according to the state comptroller’s office, more than 67,000 New Yorkers reported having their identities stolen. And of course, the actual number is far higher because while struggling to fix the problem, most victims likely don’t even think about reporting it to state government.

Nationwide, there were more than 3,200 major breaches last year impacting more than 353 million Americans. So, Consumer Reports has a free tool called a security planner help you create a digital security plan and clean up your digital footprint.

“So, Security Planner is a tool where you answer a few questions about what devices you use and what you’re concerned about and what you’re trying to do,” said Yael Grauer, a managing programmer for the Consumer Reports’ Security Planner. “And then it gives you a customized digital security plan based on the answers that you give. For spring cleaning, one of the things that’s on there is deleting old accounts. Removing old accounts that you no longer need. Things to kind of limit your exposure.”

Here’s how it works. First, you click on the devices you have. That’s important because the system algorithms are tailoring a plan specific to you. A couple of steps later you fill in your priorities. You answer questions like, do you want to protect your financial information? Maybe you want to lock down your social media accounts. Then you get your plan. I’m going to be honest. My plan is daunting. I have 32 tasks. But if you can only do one thing today, it highlights that one thing in yellow at the top.

Then it lists all those other tasks in order of priority. And I can assure you, many of the tasks on the list you’ve already done. Doing this is so important. Having a tool to help is great, and when that tool is free, it’s even better.