Broiled Mahi-Mahi With Parsleyed Tomatoes
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 21 min.
2 medium onions, sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup white wine 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 garlic cloves, chopped ½ teaspoon salt, divided ½ teaspoon pepper, divided 6 (6- to 8-ounce) mahi-mahi fillets 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese Garnish: lemon slices
Sauté sliced onions in hot olive oil over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until tender. Add chopped tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Set onion-and-tomato mixture aside.
Place fish in a single layer on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan; sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Broil 5½ inches from heat 8 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.
Spoon onion-and-tomato mixture evenly onto a platter; top with fish fillets. Sprinkle evenly with crumbled feta cheese, and garnish, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings. Per serving: Calories 265 (34% from fat); Fat 10g (sat 3.8g, mono 4.4g, poly 0.9g); Protein 35.1g; Carb 7.6g; Fiber 1.2g; Chol 142mg; Iron 2.6mg; Sodium 583mg; Calc 135mg Quick
(Southern Living Cookbook)
Weekend Chef Coastal Bend Redfish With Shrimp and Crab
Prep: 18 min. Cook: 11 min.
½ pound unpeeled, large fresh shrimp 1 cup Beurre Blanc ⅓ cup tomato puree 1 teaspoon sugar 2 shallots, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced ¼ cup olive oil, divided 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced ½ pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat 6 (6- to 8-ounce) redfish or red snapper fillets, skinned 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper
Peel and chop shrimp. Whisk together Beurre Blanc and next 2 ingredients. Sauté shallots, garlic, and jalapeño in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 1 minute.
Add shrimp; cook 1 minute or just until shrimp turn pink. Add diced tomato; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in crabmeat and Beurre Blanc; keep sauce warm.
Brush fillets with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place on a lightly greased rack in a broiler pan. Broil 3 inches from heat 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes. Top with shrimp and crab sauce.
Yield: 6 servings. Per serving: Calories 440 (73% from fat); Fat 35.6g (sat 17.1g, mono 13.8g, poly 2.3g); Protein 20.5g; Carb 10g; Fiber 0.7g; Chol 164mg; Iron 1.9mg; Sodium 925mg; Calc 94mg
(Southern Living Cookbook)
Grilled Flank Steak With Molasses Barbecue Glaze
Prep: 3 min. Cook: 12 min.
Flank steak provides an excellent source of iron in this sweet ’n’ tangy grilled dinner.
½ cup molasses ¼ cup coarse-grained mustard 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 (1½-pound) flank steak 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas 1 cup shredded lettuce 1 large tomato, chopped ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese ½ cup light sour cream
Whisk together first 3 ingredients.
Place steak in a shallow dish or large zip-top freezer bag. Pour molasses mixture over steak, reserving ¼ cup for basting. Cover or seal, and chill 2 hours, turning occasionally.
Remove meat from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 6 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness, brushing often with reserved marinade. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into very thin strips. Serve steak with tortillas and remaining ingredients.
Yield: 6 servings. Per serving: Calories 283 (30% from fat); Fat 9.4g (sat 3g, mono 3.9g, poly 1.3g); Protein 9.5g; Carb 40.7g; Fiber 1.4g; Chol 14mg; Iron 2.8mg; Sodium 376mg; Calc 181mg
(Southern Living Cookbook)
The Best Investment Strategy is Simple, But Hard to Do
You can get great returns if you stick with 3 mutual funds
by Allan Roth, AARP, February 22, 2021
I've long argued that investing is simple, and that you only need a portfolio of a few diversified, low-cost index funds. But simple doesn't always mean easy. I'll confess that my own portfolio sometimes violates the simplicity I advocate. Investing using the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is hard.
Fifteen years ago, I taught my son how to invest using just three index funds. (Index funds simply track a well-known index, such as the Standard & Poor's 500.) Called the Second Grader's Starter portfolio, it became one of the eight Dow Jones MarketWatch Lazy portfolios. It's currently occupying first place and besting other portfolios created by brilliant investors, including Yale University's David Swensen.
Use 3 kinds of index funds for a simple portfolio:
- A total U.S. stock index fund
- A total international stock index fund
- A total bond fund
With these funds, my son owned virtually every publicly held company on the planet, as well as an approximation of nearly every investment-grade taxable bond in the U.S. He got a high-performance portfolio. Nobel laureate William Sharpe, in his paper The Arithmetic of Active Management, proved that owning the entire market at the lowest cost must beat the majority of investors.
Owning even one other stock fund will actually decrease diversification, since it will be making specific bets on different types of companies. In fact, the portfolio can arguably be simpler with a two-fund portfolio where the U.S. and international stock funds are replaced by a total world stock index fund.
Over the years, I've benchmarked hundreds of portfolios against similarly weighted three-fund portfolios and can count on one hand the number of portfolios I've seen that bested this benchmark. Most fall short by far more than expenses can explain.
If data dictates that simple trumps complex, why do we build more complex portfolios?
Let's review the four reasons:
1. The human brain. Our brains are wired to find patterns and develop order out of randomness. Jason Zweig's book Your Money and Your Brain shows that our emotions, not our brains, are often in control. The desire to find the next hot stock to make a killing — and the release of dopamine you get from the chase — isn't all that different than an addiction to drugs. I have a gambling portfolio whose purpose is admittedly to satisfy my addiction to predictions of outperformance.
2. The financial services industry. People in the investment industry have an incentive to create complexity. The industry makes billions of dollars in advisory fees, and it would be pretty hard to charge much for simplicity.
3. The media.
I love watching CNBC and other investment TV shows, as they are very entertaining. The logic from the gurus is incredibly compelling and really fires my neurons to both grow and protect my money. I want to know what the market is going to do and what to invest in. Unfortunately, there is overwhelming evidence it doesn't work. In fact, given the horrible economic events in 2020 and the U.S. stock market clocking in a 21 percent gain, I can't even explain the past.
Investing, if you're doing it right, just isn't very exciting. If I hosted a weekly TV show, Episode 1 would say, “Own the whole market at the lowest costs and rebalance.” The next 99 episodes would be the same — and nobody would watch it, including me.
As economist and Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson said, “Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas."
4. Taxes. None of the three total index funds existed when I started investing, and I suspect they didn't when you started. But in a taxable account, we'd likely have to recognize some pretty hefty taxes to sell the more expensive and less diversified holdings.There usually are no tax ramifications to selling and simplifying within our traditional and Roth IRAs, 401(k)s and other tax-advantaged accounts.
I think simple is nearly always better when it comes to investing (and most things in life), so my advice is to simplify as much as possible, keeping diversification high and expenses low. In addition to likely higher returns going forward, it also helps protect against the possibility of cognitive decline later in life. After all, the more complex a portfolio, the easier it is to make mistakes.
Get your excitement from life, not investing.
Allan Roth is a practicing financial planner who has taught finance and behavioral finance at three universities and has written for national publications including The Wall Street Journal. Despite his many credentials (CFP, CPA, MBA), he remains confident that he can still keep investing simple.
10 Things You Need to Know About Your 2020 Tax Return
Filing taxes won't be the same this year. Blame the pandemic
by John Waggoner, AARP, Updated January 27, 2021
Getting ready to tackle your federal income taxes for 2020? Due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic, your return could be different — and perhaps a bit trickier — this year than in years past. Here are 10 things taxpayers should understand before filling out a 1040.
This tax season...
- Deadlines are deadlines
- Penalties are penalties
- There's still a chance to claim missing stimulus checks
- And those stimulus checks aren't taxable
- But your unemployment checks are taxable
- Are you 65 or older? Enjoy a bigger standard deduction
- Taxpayers age 65-plus also enjoy their own tax return
- There's good news about medical expense deductions
- There's also good news about charitable deductions
- Mind your Social Security payroll taxes
Death and taxes may be the two certainties in life, but at least you know when the taxman will come knocking. Federal income tax returns are due April 15 this year, the traditional filing deadline. Congress extended the deadline to July 15 last year because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) set Feb. 12 as the start date for processing 2020 returns, which is later than normal. It was Jan. 27 last year. The IRS says it needed the extra time to reprogram systems due to the tax law changes on Dec. 27 that authorized a second round of stimulus payments.
Are you a procrastinator? Any taxpayer can get an automatic filing extension to Oct. 15 by submitting Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” However, you still must pay the amount of tax owed by April 15 or face interest and penalties. Soldiers in combat zones and people living in disaster areas typically get an extension on both filing and paying federal income taxes.
2. Penalties are penalties
Another certainty: If you're required to file a federal tax return but don't, you'll pay. If you file after April 15 without having asked for an extension, you'll have to pay a late filing fee, which is 5 percent of the taxes you owe for each month, or part of a month, that a tax return is late. That penalty starts accruing the day after the tax filing due date and can build up to a maximum of 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
The IRS also levies a late payment penalty, which is 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes each month. (That's 6 percent annually.) If you blow the filing deadline and the payment deadline, however, the maximum monthly penalty is 5 percent of your unpaid taxes. Unlike the late filing penalty, the late payment fee keeps accruing until you pay your taxes.
You can pay your taxes by credit card if you don't have the money you owe on hand. But be warned that you'll be charged a processing fee. You can also ask the IRS for a payment plan via this online tool.
3. There's still a chance to claim missing stimulus checks
If you didn't get a stimulus check last year — or if you didn't get as much as you were entitled to — you can claim the missing stimulus money on your 2020 tax return in the form of a tax credit called the Recovery Rebate Credit. (The stimulus payments were, technically, an advance on this tax credit.) A tax credit reduces your taxes, dollar for dollar — and in this case, it can not only reduce your taxes to zero but produce a refund.
Here's an example: A family of four who met the eligibility requirements was entitled to a total of $5,800 in the two rounds of stimulus checks. If the family had overpaid their taxes by $200, they normally would have expected a $200 refund. But if the family never received the stimulus payments owed to them, they could recover the money with their 2020 tax return for a $6,000 refund — the $200 in overpaid taxes plus the $5,800 worth of missing stimulus payments.
Use the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet that comes with your federal tax return to figure how much of a credit, if any, you're eligible for. The 21-line worksheet looks intimidating, but it's worth the effort if you're missing money. No itemization is required. The amount from the worksheet goes on line 30 of your 1040 form.
4. And those stimulus checks aren't taxable
According to the IRS, stimulus payments are not considered income and no tax is owed on the money. Stimulus payments are also not considered income for purposes of determining eligibility for federal benefits or assistance programs.
5. But your unemployment checks are taxable
Unemployment benefits were a lifeline for many who lost their jobs last year during the pandemic. Unfortunately, those jobless benefits are taxable.
When you signed up for unemployment benefits, you had the option to have taxes withheld. Whether you did or not, you'll receive a Form 1099-G, “Certain Government Payments,” which will show the amount of unemployment benefits you received in 2020 and how much, if anything, was withheld for taxes. Any severance pay you received last year is also taxable.
Depending on your income and the number of dependents you have, you may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which could reduce your taxes owed, dollar for dollar, by as much as $6,660. Like the Recovery Rebate Credit, the EITC is a refundable credit, which means that you'll get the full amount of the credit you're eligible for, even if you had no income and even if it results in a refund.
6. Are you 65 or older? Enjoy a bigger standard deduction
In order to itemize deductions, you need to have more in deductions than the standard deduction, which everyone gets. For the 2020 tax year, the standard deduction is $12,400 for individuals and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly, which is up from the $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples in 2019. It's $18,650 for heads of households, which is up $300 from 2019.
Taking the generous standard deduction isn't the worst thing in the world: If you rented your home or didn't have a pile of other deductions, your standard deduction is probably more than you would get by itemizing. And taking the standard deduction means you don't have to keep a shoebox full of receipts all year.
The standard deduction for 2020 gets even better for age 65-plus taxpayers. Married taxpayers born before Jan. 2, 1956, whether filing jointly or separately, get an extra $1,300 apiece added to their standard deductions. The additional standard deduction is $1,650 for singles and heads of households. You are also eligible for the same additional standard deduction amounts if you are blind and younger than 65. If you are over 65 and blind, the amounts double.
7. Taxpayers age 65-plus also enjoy their own tax return
Calculating the bigger standard deduction is made easier with Form 1040-SR, “U.S. Tax Return for Seniors.” The special tax return for those 65 and older includes a simple-to-use standard deduction chart at the bottom of the form that shows the amount of the bigger standard deduction based on your filing status and how many boxes you check for age and blindness. And for those who still use paper forms — electronic filing is highly recommended for speed and security — the 1040-SR form is much easier to read than the standard 1040, thanks to a larger font size for the text.
8. There's good news about medical expense deductions
You need two things to deduct medical expenses. First, all of your itemized deductions, including eligible medical deductions, need to add up to more than the standard deduction. Second, you can deduct only medical expenses that are above a specified threshold of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The temporary current threshold of 7.5 percent, which was scheduled to return to 10 percent in 2021, has now been made permanent, thanks to the pandemic. The permanent 7.5 percent threshold was included in stimulus-related legislation signed into law on Dec. 27.
A remarkably large number of unreimbursed expenses are eligible for the medical deduction in order to help get you above the 7.5 percent threshold — aside from the usual out-of-pocket fees you pay to doctors and dentists. You can deduct the costs of nursing home care, for example, provided that medical services are the main reason for being in the nursing home. You can also deduct acupuncture sessions, smoking cessation programs, false teeth and some insurance premiums.
9. There's also good news about charitable deductions
If you miss taking the deduction for charitable giving because you can't overcome the bigger standard deductions that were implemented in 2018 by tax reform legislation, you're not alone. The charitable deduction was an incentive that helped funnel a great deal of money into charities.
To ease their suffering a bit, Congress allowed anyone who takes the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 in cash donations (which includes currency, checks, credit or debit cards, and electronic fund transfers) made to charities in 2020 directly on their 1040s — no itemizing required. The $300 maximum is per “tax unit,” which means you can only deduct $300, no matter whether you're filing a joint return or a single return. It gets better in the 2021 tax year, when those filing jointly can get a maximum deduction of $600 — $300 per spouse.
10. Mind your Social Security payroll taxes
The IRS issued guidance last August that gave employers the option to defer collection of employees’ portions of Social Security payroll taxes between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. The idea was to give workers a bit more in their paychecks during that four-month stretch in order to help ease the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Employees originally were required to repay the deferred taxes this year by April 30, either in a lump sum or incrementally through increased paycheck withholdings.
You'll still have to repay any payroll taxes deferred in 2020, but Congress has given you more time to do so. Under stimulus-related legislation signed into law on Dec. 27, you'll now have until the end of 2021 to repay the deferred Social Security payroll taxes before penalties and interest start to accrue.
As a reminder, the Social Security payroll tax is 12.4 percent, with the employee paying 6.2 percent and the employer paying 6.2 percent. Self-employed workers pay the full 12.4 percent themselves. In 2020, you paid Social Security tax on income up to $137,700, an increase from the $132,900 income cap in 2019.
Dietary Guidelines For Americans
Over the past couple of years, AICR has been working to influence the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) to align with AICR’s research and 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations.
Following publication of the Dietary Guidelines on December 29, 2020, we connected with AICR’s policy expert Melissa Maitin-Shepard to learn more about the guidelines and why they are important.
What is the significance of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans form the basis of all federal government food and nutrition programs, policies and messaging. They are developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and issued every 5 years. The two agencies select a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) of renowned scientists to study the research and draw conclusions and evidence-based recommendations on nutritional patterns that are beneficial for the health of the American public.
These scientists draft and release a Scientific Report that is then used to inform the final set of recommendations, which is made by officials within the agencies themselves.
The Dietary Guidelines are used in many ways within the federal government. For example, meals served as part of the school meal programs must meet nutrition standards that are based on the guidelines. As another example, the Nutrition Facts label found on packaged foods is required to include information to support eating a diet consistent with the guidelines. Many state and local governments, nonprofits, private companies and health professionals also use the Dietary Guidelines to inform food and nutrition programs, policies and educational efforts
How has AICR participated in the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines?
AICR worked hard to ensure that our research informed the development of the Dietary Guidelines. Throughout the multi-year 2020-2025 DGA development process, AICR monitored progress, submitted several comment letters about our evidence and provided oral comments when there were opportunities to do so.
In August 2020, following the release of the DGAC’s Scientific Report, AICR provided oral and written comments in support of the committee’s evidence-based conclusions and recommendations. In particular, AICR applauded the committee for recognizing the importance of limiting red and processed meats and added sugars as part of a healthy dietary pattern. The DGAC’s recommendation for men to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, a proposed change from the current two-drink maximum that is based on outdated evidence, is also closer to AICR’s recommendation that, for cancer prevention, it’s best to not drink alcohol. In conjunction with 11 other public health organizations, AICR sent a letter strongly urging that the Dietary Guidelines include the DGAC’s recommendations on alcohol.
What are the differences between the DGAC’s Scientific Report and the final Dietary Guidelines?
The Dietary Guidelines are largely consistent with the evidence-based recommendations in the DGAC’s Scientific Report. The guidelines recommend that Americans follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes, but is not limited to, vegetables, fruits, animal- and plant-based proteins and whole grains, while limiting added sugars, saturated fat, sodium and alcoholic beverages.
While the DGAC had recommended that both men and women limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, a change that AICR strongly supported, this recommendation was not included in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Instead, the guidelines retain the outdated advice that men may safely drink up to two servings of alcohol per day.
The DGAC also recommended further reducing intake of added sugars. AICR supported this recommendation, as added sugars provide excess calories that contribute to overweight and obesity. However, this was not included in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The new guidelines do not explicitly recommend reducing intake of red and processed meats. Instead, they recommend eating lean meats as part of a variety of animal- and plant-based protein foods. While the guidelines note that higher intake of red and processed meats are associated with detrimental health outcomes, and that most intake of meats and poultry should be unprocessed, these recommendations are not included as part of the Dietary Guideline’s core recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern.
How do the final Dietary Guidelines align with and differ from AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations?
While the Dietary Guidelines are for general health and AICR’s recommendations are specific to cancer prevention, the two are largely aligned. Both recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; limiting intake of foods high in saturated fat and added sugars; and eating appropriate portion sizes to manage weight. Both also recommend exclusive breastfeeding, if possible, for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding with introduction of age-appropriate foods.
However, AICR also recommends limiting intake of red meats and processed meats to reduce colorectal cancer risk, a recommendation that is not featured prominently in the Dietary Guidelines. With respect to alcohol, the guidelines recommend limiting intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. Based on evidence that alcohol intake increases the risk of at least six types of cancer, AICR recommends that for cancer prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol. To learn more about how the Dietary Guidelines align with AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations, register for AICR’s upcoming Lifestyle & Cancer Symposium: Evidence Matters on January 28, 2021, which will include a session on this topic.
How will AICR play a role in the implementation of the Dietary Guidelines moving forward?
AICR is committed to helping people follow the Dietary Guidelines and our recommendations through educational programs. AICR hosts events to educate key audiences about the guidelines and their alignment with AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations. In addition to the Lifestyle & Cancer Symposium: Evidence Matters, AICR also plans to host other educational events in 2021.
AICR’s programs, like the Healthy 10 Challenge, encourage eating a healthy diet that is aligned with AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations and the Dietary Guidelines. AICR also advocates for policy changes, like updates to the Nutrition Facts label, to make it easier for all people to identify healthful food choices.
Smartphone Security: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Phone Safe
Reader's Digest EditorsUpdated: Feb. 22, 2021
These days, your smartphone is more than just a way to call or text people—it serves as an external backup brain that more often than not holds all the important data in your life. Here’s how to protect all your precious data.
Considering our smartphones are now home to everything from emergency contacts to banking information, keeping those assets out of the wrong hands is more important than ever. Read on for all the mobile security threats you need to be on the alert for and what steps experts recommend you take to protect your device.
If you’re not already following us on social media, this is a great time to engage on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Let us know your smartphone security concerns and how else we can help keep you safe.
The key principles of smartphone security
No matter which type of smartphone you have, these are the four main security issues you should be mindful of.
- Virus protection: Like your laptop or desktop, phones are susceptible to hacking and viruses.
- Smartphone privacy: Whether it’s a nosy partner, friend, co-worker, or a hacker who is up to no good, maintaining your privacy on your device is paramount.
- Phone security: Your phone is often your lifeline and increasingly serves as your digital wallet, which makes it a top target for thieves.
- Personal data collection: Apps and even your phone itself are always trying to glean information about you. Find out how much is too much and how you can control what information is—and isn’t—shared about you.
Phone security best practices
1. Ignore and avoid phishing attacks
Hackers and digital thieves are becoming craftier than ever in an attempt to steal the keys to your identity. Once you’re aware of their tricks and know about the latest scams—including Apple ID phishing scams and vishing—you won’t fall victim or mistakenly download a virus to your phone. Your first line of defense: immediately delete any questionable emails or texts and learn how to stop spam texts altogether.
2. Use antivirus for phones
Did you know that even with the latest iPhone security updates, iPhones can get viruses, too? Android users will want to know the ins and outs of Google Play Protect. If you should accidentally download a virus, we have you covered for that as well and can fill you in on how to remove hidden malware on an Android phone. Of course, investing in one of the most secure phones is essential to preventing security problems in the first place.
3. Secure your messages to maintain privacy
Whether you’re in a career that demands privacy or you’re simply planning a surprise birthday party for a friend, you’ll want to know about these strategies for keeping your texts and phone calls secure. Start by learning how to hide text messages on an iPhone. Then consider if you need an encrypted phone—find out what this buzzword actually means and why and how to encrypt your iPhone or Android phone. The most secure messaging apps are a must for anyone with privacy concerns.
4. Manage your app permissions
Your smartphone and the apps you download to your phone know a lot about you, sometimes even too much. One of the quickest ways to keep your personal information private is by paying attention to your app permissions. For example, does your rideshare app really need access to your contact list or your calendar? Both iPhones and Androids have made it easier than ever to control app permissions, but you still need to do your homework in order to limit them to the ones the app truly needs.
Apple devotees will want to know how to delete apps on an iPhone and iPhone privacy settings they should check ASAP.
Also, everyone should know how to clear cookies from your phone—cookies are little bits and pieces of data that can reveal your likes, dislikes, and habits—and they reveal a lot about you.
5. Lock your phone
According to a 2017 Pew Report, almost 30 percent of smartphone owners do not even use a screen lock or other security features; yet the easiest and most obvious way to keep your phone protected is to regularly lock your home screen and use two-factor authentication. Additionally, experts recommend that you go the extra mile, so make sure you don’t have a weak password and learn how to lock apps on your phone.
6. Be wary of public Wi-Fi
Sure, it can be convenient to check your email while waiting for your subway or bus and you may occasionally go to the coffee shop down the street to work. But logging on to an open Wi-Fi network could potentially open your device up to hackers—if you’re not careful.
7. Use a recovery app to find a lost phone
A lost or stolen iPhone may feel like the worst thing in the world that can happen, but there are steps you can take immediately to protect yourself and your information. Plus the built-in Find My iPhone app can help you reconnect with your lost phone.
Lost phones aren’t the only way your data can be stolen, so be sure you know how to factory reset your iPhone or Android and do so before turning it in or recycling.
8. Don’t jailbreak or root your device
Finally, experts strongly recommend against jailbreaking your iPhone or rooting your Android. Why? Even though jailbreaking your phone may seem appealing, no customization is worth making your phone vulnerable to hacking or other viruses.
While iPhone and Android are constantly employing better and more sophisticated security measures—and these are the most secure phones on the market—at the end of the day, keeping your phone and personal data safe is largely up to you. If you get a suspicious scam text or an iPhone virus warning, think twice before automatically clicking on any links to open it. Look to see if there are any telltale misspellings? Does the URL start with “https:”? And remember, that Apple (and other legitimate companies, such as your bank) will never ask for your password in a text message. Common sense will always be your best defense.
Reflections Recommended Reads
1 The Lying Life of Adults
2 All the Devils Are Here
3 Transcendent Kingdom
4 Anxious People
7 The Evening and the Morning
8 The Awkward Black Man
10 The Return
(List by Christina Ianzito and Caroline Leavitt)