1-minute tech changes for more privacy

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You’re shopping for a gift, or doing something personal, and oops! Someone waltzes into the room. No problem — just hit Command + M on a Mac or Windows + M on a Windows PC to instantly minimize the program you have open.

There are so many little tips and tricks that make using your tech better. I’ve got a ton up my sleeve that are privacy-focused. If you find one new to you, share this article with a friend!

5-stars! Watch Kim Komando’s Daily Podcast on YouTube. It’s tech news with a fun slant!

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Apple keeps track of where you go and how often you visit. It can then make suggestions based on what it calls Significant Locations. You might see these as calendar events or map directions alerts.

Sure, it’s helpful, but not everyone likes it. You can clear this list.

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services.
  • Tap Significant Locations.
  • Hit the Clear History button.

You’re sending more than a selfie

Most people don’t realize all they share when sending a picture via text. Nearly every social media site strips out the metadata that reveals a photo’s little details, like when, where and how it was taken. But that info is not protected if you text a pic. You can stop that.

woman at gym takes selfie

To stop location sharing on iPhone:

  • Open the image you want to send and tap the share button.
  • Select Options and toggle off Location. Tap Done.

To disable location tracking in your camera altogether:

  • Open Settings. Tap Privacy & Security > Location Services.
  • Scroll down, tap on Camera, then select Never.

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On Android, here’s how to wipe the location data for a single photo:

  • Open your gallery and select the photo.
  • Go to Details (it may be a three-dot menu) and click Remove location data.

Disable Bluetooth when you don’t need it

Bluetooth works similarly to Wi-Fi and cellular networks but performs simpler tasks at shorter ranges. You don’t need a cellular signal or network connection to use Bluetooth, and it doesn’t use data. And like any other connection, it’s not 100% safe.

Hackers and scammers must be close to you to use Bluetooth to hijack your phone. But in just about any public space, you’re arm’s length from strangers.

My advice: Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. Keeping it active all the time makes your device more discoverable. As a bonus, keeping Bluetooth off will increase your device’s battery life.

person writes in a notebook

African American teenage boy writes something in a notebook while studying in the campus library. An open laptop is on the table. He is wearing wireless headphones. (iStock)

  • On an iPhone, go to Settings > Bluetooth and switch it off. You can also swipe down from the top right of your screen to open the Control Center and tap the Bluetooth icon.
  • The same steps work for Android phones. Go to Settings > Connected Devices > Connection Preferences > Bluetooth and switch it off. (Note: Steps vary based on your phone’s model. Look or search for Bluetooth if these steps don’t match your phone.)

Airplane mode also disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, among other things, so it works in a pinch — but you won’t receive calls or texts.

Swap your pen for a safer one

It’s kind of crazy to me that check fraud is increasing in a big way. Criminals go to mailboxes and target envelopes that look like checks being mailed or bill payments.

Check washing is the most common type of check fraud. This is where a crook steals a check from the mail and alters the payee’s name so they can cash it. They often change the amount of money as well. 

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If you need to write a check, use a security pen, also known as a check-washing pen. Uni-ball 207 Series pens (4 for around $10 on Amazon) use specially formulated ink that gets trapped into the paper, making it difficult for criminals to wash or erase the ink on a check.

To be extra safe, skip the mailbox and take your checks directly to your local post office. More smart steps here if there’s a mail fraud surge in your area.

checks identity theft

Check washing fraud is when important information is removed from an original check and new information is added on. (Fox News)

Don’t forget crooks like to go offline, too

Thieves still use old-school tactics they think we all forgot about. We’re too smart for that, right?

  • Out in public, keep your purse and wallet close. Only bring the cards you’ll be using.
  • Be aware of who’s around when you pull out your phone, and hide your screen as you type in your PIN.
  • Leave your Social Security card, birth certificate and passport at home unless you truly need them.
  • Shred old bills and financial records before tossing them. I use this shredder.
  • Review your credit report and bank statements regularly. Here’s how to get a free report.

If you get scammed, resist the urge to stay quiet. Report fraud, scams and bad business practices to the FTC. If you gave out your Social Security number, contact the SSA immediately.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: The SWAT team raided Kim’s house

Plus, Madeline Smith has caught over 1,000 cheaters caught online. She shares her insights on spotting an unfaithful spouse. Kim and Andrew also talk about NASA’s Mars simulator and demystify baffling Gen Z slang.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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