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As the New Year begins, we would like to offer you a few words of advice that might save you some money and a lot of headache.

One of our local columnists recently had her private information phished, after likely clicking on a deceitful email. For those unfamiliar with phishing, it refers to emails or other fraudulent communications that seek to convince you to give up your personal information, including usernames, passwords and even financial information. The phishing emails and websites often masquerade as coming from legitimate sources.

We continue to hear of these sorts of schemes and sadly they continue to ensnare people.

In the case of phishing, often once a person has stolen your email account information, they will then send an email to all of your contacts telling them that you are stuck in some faraway place and have lost all of your money and need immediate assistance. The emails can be quite convincing and well worded.

If you ever receive an email like this, don't answer it. If you think there's even a chance the email could be authentic, do your best to verify the person's situation through any other means available.

If you've become a victim of these malicious schemes, then we are truly sorry for the pain caused to you.

We know personally how easy it is to leave passwords the same for months and years and to use the same password for dozens of websites, but we're taking a quick moment to suggest that each you review your passwords and take a few minutes to reset them to something different and sufficiently strong. We believe those few moments will be well worth your time and give you some extra peace of mind.