Top 10 Identity Theft Steps to Protection

These are 10 Key Steps to Protecting Your Identity.  No matter what we do we cannot completely stop identity theft, but we can take necessary steps to prevent it.

1.      Keep your confidential information private. Your bank or credit card company won’t call or e-mail to ask for your account information. They already have it.

2.      Keep an inventory of everything in your wallet and your phone, including account numbers. Don’t keep your Social Security card or any card with your Social Security number, such as an insurance card, in your wallet or phone.

3.      Order and review your credit report. You are allowed one free report each year from each of the three major credit agencies. Order reports here; it is the only place to get them for free.

4.      Stop getting banking and credit card information in the mail. (See “Go paperless for safer banking.”) If you move make sure you have everything forwarded immediately.

5.      Monitor your bank and credit card transactions for unauthorized use. Crooks with your account numbers usually start small to see if you’ll notice. The sooner you catch them, the easier the problems are to clear up.

6.      Keep your vehicle registration and insurance forms in a sealed envelope in your glove box and lock it and your car when at home or away.

7.      If you conduct business online, use your own computer. A public computer is less secure, as is wireless Internet.

8.      Look for suspicious devices and don’t let anyone stand nearby when you use an ATM. Take your card and receipt with you. Keep your PIN in your head, not in your wallet. Many thieves now have wireless technology that can pull your credit card information just be standing by you.

9.      Once you no longer need to store them, shred any bills or statements that have your personal information on them. (See “Purge your financial paperwork.”)

10.  Protect your computer from vulnerability with these steps:

  • Keep system and browser software up to date and set to the highest security level you can tolerate. Install antivirus, antispyware and firewall protection, and keep them up to date as well. When possible, use hardware firewalls, often available through your broadband connection router.
  • If you use wireless Internet access, make sure you get help from someone who understands wireless security when you set up your access point or router.
  • Back up your data and store it way from your computer.
  • Don’t open e-mails from strangers. Malware can be hidden in embedded attachments and graphics files.
  • Don’t open attachments unless you know who sent them and what they contain. Never open executable attachments. Configure Windows so that the file extensions of known file types are not hidden.
  • Don’t click on pop-ups. Configure Windows or your Web browser to block them.
  • Don’t provide your credit card number online unless you are making a purchase from a Web site you trust. Reputable sites will always direct you to a secure page with a URL starting with https:// whenever you actually make purchases or are asked to provide confidential information.
  • Use strong passwords: at least six characters, including at least one symbol and number, and no reference to your name or other personal information. Use a different password for every site that requires one, and change passwords regularly.
  • Never send a user name, password or other confidential information via e-mail.
  • Consider turning off your computer when you’re not using it or at least putting it in standby mode.
  • Don’t keep passwords, tax returns or other financial information on your hard drive.

Finally the last tip is to use third party Identity Theft Protection Services such as Identity Theft Shield.

Brought to you by: Richard C. Hemphill

I provide trainings and classes on Identity Theft Protection, to learn more call 314-205-9753. In addition I carry the Identity Theft Shield Plan as a valuable Identity Theft Protection Service for pennies a day.