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Protecting your AOL Account

How AOL helps protect your account

Every member of Team AOL must abide by AOL's privacy policy. For additional information visit our Privacy Policy page. In addition, our partner companies are required to adhere to confidentiality agreements to ensure that your information remains safe and secure.

We strongly encourage our content, commerce and advertising partners to post clearly their own privacy policies and to have privacy control systems in place to protect your personal information. Be sure to review their privacy policies and contact them directly if you have any questions.

Select a topic and FAQ below to learn more about keeping your AOL safe and secure.

What can I do to secure my computer and AOL account?

Update and Secure your computer

• Enable your firewall.
• Update your software, such as AOL Desktop Gold Software, McAfee, Adobe products and Java.
• Regularly scan your computer for spyware and viruses using anti-virus software. If you don’t have a one, we recommend McAfee Internet Security Suite – Special edition from AOL.
• Update your Windows or Mac OS operating system to repair necessary programs, hardware and devices. Enabling automatic updates on your computer will do this work for you.

Update your browser

• Be cautious when downloading certain plug-ins or third-party applications, as they may access your AOL Account without your knowledge and compromise your computer’s security.
• While Internet Explorer may still work with some AOL products and services, it is no longer supported by Microsoft and can't be updated. For a more reliable and secure experience online, upgrade your existing supported web browser or download a new one.

Change your password

• If your account has recently been compromised or you suspect it has been hacked, we suggest you change your password.
• It's always a good idea to update your password regularly and to make sure it's unique from other passwords you use. Read our password help article to learn how to change your password.

Secure your AOL Account

• Create a secure password.
Clear the cache in your web browser.
• Never share your password over email or third-party sites.
• AOL will NEVER email or call you asking for your password.
• Learn more security tips by checking out our online help article Password help.
• Sign out of your AOL account when using a public computer or sharing a computer.
• To ensure your account’s security and privacy, always sign out of AOL WebMail, My Account and websites in the AOL family, especially if you are using a public or shared computer. Learn more on how to secure your AOL account.

What can I do to protect my online privacy?

AOL values our customer's privacy. As you read emails, check your stock portfolio or post status updates on Facebook, you leave behind invisible tracks on the internet. This information can be misused by hackers or identity thieves.

Here are some tips to protect your online privacy. Some are easy, some are common sense, and some involve a bit of work.

Always read online privacy policies

Almost every Web site silently records what you are doing. Websites gather information, such as the kind of hardware or software you use or even the address that your ISP has assigned you, without your knowledge. However, these websites have privacy policies that will tell you what kind of information is being extracted from your computer and with whom this information being shared.

Opt out of mailing lists

Websites offer you several privacy options, including the option to opt out of mailing lists that share your information. You should opt out of being part of the list in order to keep your information secure. Learn more on how to unsubscribe or block spam messages.

Get a separate email account for personal use

Keep your work and personal email accounts separate. Usually companies have the legal right to read your work email correspondence, which may include any personal information you have stored on your computer.

Teach your children not to give out personal information online without your permission

Federal law prohibits companies from collecting personal information from children under 13 years of age; however, there are certain websites that violate or skirt the law. Educate your children on how important it is to ask your permission before they give out their name, address or other information about themselves or their family. Make sure teenagers using Facebook have privacy settings that allow only their real friends to see their profile, photos, videos, etc.

Be cautious when using social networking and picture/video sharing sites

If you use a picture or video sharing site to share photos with friends and relatives, pay attention to the privacy settings on the site to ensure that you are not sharing photos with strangers, especially photos of your children.

Learn to use the privacy features in your web browser

Internet browsers, such as Edge, Safari, Firefox or Chrome, have a variety of tools and plug-ins available to help protect your privacy and the security of the information you use on the Internet. If you use a computer in a library or other public place, make certain you clear the web browser's cache before you leave.

Make sure that online transactions are secure

Most e-commerce sites have a secure way to receive your credit card information. In most cases, the address for a secure website will start with "https." The "s" indicates that the site is secure. In addition, most browsers display a small picture of a lock on the browser frame at the bottom to indicate that the site is secure; however, just having both these features doesn't make a site legitimate. The company running it could be fraudulent or the website could be fake. Ensure that you enter your banking or transaction details only on a secure site.

Learn how to spot phishing and other scams

Before giving out personal information online, know who you're dealing with. You have to be especially careful because fraudsters, trying to get information out of you, create websites that resemble the sites of legitimate businesses. "Phishing" is a scam designed to steal your personal information under false pretenses, find out how to protect yourself against online scams.
Some clues of fraud:

• Messages marked "Urgent" are usually fraudulent.
• If an email address that claims to be from a bank or business headquartered in the United States ends with .cn or any other country code, it is not legitimate.
• Many fake sites will place a picture of a fake lock icon on their site. Ensure that the secure lock icon is in the browser frame and not inside the browser window.

Reject or delete unnecessary cookies

Cookies are small bits of computer code planted in your computer by most websites that you visit. They allow websites to collect and store information about your online activity and recognize your computer when you return or visit an affiliated site. For example, if you sign on to a website and obtain a username and password, the cookies remember that information for you. To get rid of unwanted cookies, clear the cookies in your web browser.

Safeguard important files and communications

Always keep your information secure and private.

• Never use family names or birth dates as passwords.
• Keep your important files out of any shared or public folders.
• In situations where there is a particular need for security, use encryption.
• Secure your laptop, phone and other portable devices with a strong password that cannot be guessed easily.

How to protect your AOL account from hackers?

Keep your privacy and security on lockdown. You should be the only person that has access to your account. Below are a few helpful tips that will keep your account secure. Also, please check out our Safety and Security page for more information on how best to protect your account.

Use different passwords

Using a single password for AOL and other sites (Facebook, Twitter, or banking websites) may place your AOL account, username or email at risk. We suggest using unique passwords for each site you visit.

Be creative

Make sure that your password is difficult for others to guess, but easy for you to remember. Check out our Password protection tips article for techniques on generating passwords.

Keep it to yourself

Never disclose or give your password and Account Security Question if you are prompted to in a link sent to you in an email, chat room or pop-up window.

Be suspicious

Don’t be fooled when a suspicious email, link, chat room or pop-up window claiming to be AOL asks for your password. AOL will NEVER ask you for your password or other personal information. Whenever AOL needs to contact you for official purposes, you will receive AOL Certified Mail.

Sign out

Always sign out if you're not using your AOL account. If you use your AOL account on a public computer, make sure to sign out of your account when you are finished, and then clear the web browser's cache. Use the Remember Me or Store Password feature only on your personal computer.

Don't download or open suspicious mail

Don't click a link or open an email attachment in a suspicious looking email, even if it comes from a relative or friend (most likely their email has been hacked!). And definitely don't open attachments or click links from senders you don't know.

Stay up-to-date

Always keep your operating system and anti-virus software up to date, as these steps will help protect your computer from the latest threats.

Know what your installing

Don’t install unfamiliar programs as these programs may contain viruses or spyware.

What do I do if I suspect unauthorized access to my AOL account?

If you believe your AOL account has been used without your permission, there are several steps you can take to prevent unauthorized access and fix the situation.

Review Your Billing Details

• If you think someone else has used your account, immediately verify if any of your billing plans have been changed without your consent. Also, run a virus scan to rid the computer of any viruses that may have downloaded.
Sign into your account with your primary username and answer your Account Security Question. Check your account activity for any unusual charges.

- Your billing info used for AOL is protected, even if someone gains unauthorized access to your account, you can be assured that your payment information is secure. The only way someone can gain access to your payment information is when you send it in an email.

Run a Virus Scan

Use well-known virus protection software to check your computer for viruses that may have downloaded during or after unauthorized usage. If you need help scanning your computer, go here: Install McAfee Internet Security Suite - Special edition from AOL.

Check if emails were sent without your consent

If you suspect unauthorized usage, immediately check your Sent folder for any emails that were sent without your consent. We recommend that you immediately change your password and check if your profile has been changed.

Avoid computer viruses

Viruses are destructive programs that delete or corrupt files, interfere with your computer operations and reproduce themselves to fill disk or RAM space on your computer. It's best to read the information available to you on your antivirus software’s website, but here are some of our recommendations to avoid viruses:

• Scan all new files with virus-scanning software before opening.
• Don’t download files from unknown sources, either from your email or the web.
• Don’t download attachments (pictures, games, electronic greetings) unless it’s from someone you know.

If you think you have a virus, we recommend that you immediately use antivirus software to run a scan. If you don't have one, you can download McAfee’s latest antivirus software or visit our Internet Security Central page for more information.

Increase your children’s internet safety

Children's online privacy is one of our top priorities at AOL. We believe children deserve special protection in an online environment. The AOL Privacy Policy at AOL includes special policies to safeguard the privacy of children and young teens.

Resources for children's safety online

The following are some websites that can give you more information on how to keep your children safe and secure while online.

Net Family News
Safe Kids Home Page
The NetSmartz Workshop
National Cyber Security Alliance
The CyberSmart School Program Internet safety for teens
• US Federal Trade Commission - Children’s Privacy
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
• US Federal Trade Commission - Consumer Information
• Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -- Online Privacy: Using the Internet Safely