By Tracey Dowdy
My debit card was recently compromised. Fortunately, seeing a charge for $500 worth of alcohol out of state was a red flag and I was able to correct the security breach before any additional charges were made. It made me hyper-aware of how easily our bank accounts and personal information could be accessed by individuals with criminal intent.
It’s not just skimmers at gas pumps, or ghost ATM’s and fake fronts, sometimes we do the leg work for the criminals by leaving our personal information vulnerable online. Think about how many online accounts you have with your credit card or other banking information stored. Your Amazon account may be the granddaddy of them all – not only is your address, shopping habits, preferences, and debit or credit card tied to the account, if you’ve shipped items or gifted services to friends and family, their address is available too. There’s no time like now to ensure your information – and theirs – is protected.
Start by making sure that the information linked to your Amazon account is up to date. Sign in to your account, click on Login & security and confirm your email address and phone number are accurate. If a hacker were to attempt accessing your account or try to change your security settings, Amazon will send you an email to confirm you are the one making the changes, and having a phone number linked to your account acts as a backup method to receive one-time passcodes.
Second, make sure you have a secure password, one that is unique to Amazon and not used across multiple platforms. Use a random password generator from a reputable site like Norton or choose from this list from CNET. Once you’ve come up with a new, secure password, go to Edit next to the password field under Login & Security. Enter your current password, copy and paste the new one, and then click Save changes.
You should also use two-step verification for an additional layer of protection. Password managers not only store your assigned password, but they also store the one-time passwords – OTP – that two-step verification uses. Once you turn it on, after entering your password, you’ll receive a text (or see it in an app – see below) with a one-time code to enter to complete the login. You cannot access the account without both. To turn on two-step verification, go to Login & security, and click the Edit button next to the 2SV settings, and then click Get started.
You have two options to receive your OTP codes: via text or via the Authenticator app. If you choose text, you’ll receive a message with your OTP code whenever you log into your Amazon account. If you choose the Authenticator app, you can access your code within your password manager or a dedicated authenticator app like Google Authenticator.
If you choose an Authenticator app, use your preferred app to scan the QR code. The app will display a six-digit code – simply enter it and click Verify OTP to continue.
On the next page, click Got it. Turn on Two-Step Verification.
This page will walk you through the process for signing into devices that can’t display the OTP prompt – e.g. your Kindle. Instead, you’ll need to enter your password followed by the OTP code in order to sign in.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.