PROOS: Is your personal information secure?

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month — a time to remind us of the steps we can take to protect our critical information in today’s digital age.

The internet has increased convenience for consumers and enhanced our ability to communicate with friends around the world. Unfortunately, it also has expanded the reach of criminals looking to take your money or steal your identity.

According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, Michigan residents and businesses have lost more than $36 million to cybercriminal activities so far this year, with an average victim loss of over $6,000.

Identity theft wreaks havoc on millions of lives every year — impacting victims with legal fees and hours of their time spent trying to clear their name. To help people protect themselves, I sponsored legislation that was signed in 2013 to require all three major credit reporting agencies to allow Michigan residents to place a security freeze on their credit information.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has a consumer alert, Credit Freeze; Fraud Alert; & Credit Monitoring, available online to help residents understand the different protection measures they can take. It is one of many useful alerts that can be viewed at michigan.gov/ag under the Resources tab.

To help make the internet safer and more secure for everyone, the National Cyber Security Alliance offers easy-to-use resources at StaySafeOnline.org. The mobile-friendly site is designed to be a one-stop shop for online safety awareness and education.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also offers the Stop. Think. Connect. Toolkit featuring simple, actionable advice for everyone from students and parents to small business owners and older Americans. Learn more about the national public awareness campaign at dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

Cybercriminals are becoming more bold and clever. I urge all southwest Michigan families to look out for identity thieves and to take steps to protect your personal information online.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties. 

Business

PHOTO STORY: Inaugural spring market draws visitors, vendors from surrounding areas

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 876,854 cases, 18,627 deaths

Berrien County

Berrien County asks for public input with emergency management survey

Cass County

Man involved in 2020 murder of Dowagiac man pleads guilty

News

PHOTO STORY: Niles Renaissance Faire sees success in its third year

Cassopolis

Cass County Medical Care Facility hosts parade

Berrien County

Buchanan man sentenced to jail time for drug possession

Dowagiac

Kalamazoo man injured in Wayne Township motorcycle crash

Berrien County

UWSM CEO chosen for United Way worldwide task force

Cassopolis

Teen killed in Ontwa Township shooting confirmed to be Cassopolis student

News

Niles Police Log: May 5-12

Cass County

New pavilion project breaks ground in Russom Park

Breaking News

Police investigating fatal shooting of 15-year-old girl

Cass County

New look: Dowagiac District Library welcomes guests with grand opening ceremony

Dowagiac

SMC graduating 87 with honors

Cass County

Dowagiac resident sentenced for tampering with monitoring device, fleeing police

Dowagiac

Dowagiac city manager discusses area development

News

Resident connected with unpublished manuscript handwritten by her mother

Business

Niles business wins 2021 distinction, given green light to build kitchen

Cass County

Homeless man gets jail for attempting to steal vehicle

Edwardsburg

Woman arrested following Ontwa Township drug search

News

Gov. Whitmer lifts mask requirement for fully vaccinated Michiganders

Buchanan

Berrien County Health Department to begin administering Pfizer vaccine to 12-15-year-olds

Dowagiac

Past Rotary president presented Paul Harris Award