• Ways to prevent identity theft

    Liann Walborsky

    Does a day go by where you don’t hear some headline or story about accounts being hacked and all personal financial information being compromised? Unfortunately, this is the world we live in…and we all need to take important steps to keep safe. I recently read an article about good “cyber hygiene” which I found noteworthy. It’s defined as, “…steps that computer users can take to improve their cybersecurity and better protect themselves online.” Hey, you take care to wash your hands — it’s basically the same concept.

    Couple of tips:

    Safely and securely shred personal information including bank statements, bills and insurance paperwork before you dispose of them. Yes, there are people out there who dive into dumpsters looking for information they can use.

    Don’t leave personal information lying around at work or at home. Think about all the people that may come through your house or into your office — babysitters, cleaners, maintenance workers….you never know. This could be anything from Social Security cards to communications from the IRS. Either shred information or place it in a secure safe in your home.

    Don’t carry too many credit cards in your wallet. Two may be just enough — an ATM/debit card and a credit card. If your purse or wallet is stolen, this limits the possible amount of damage and time spent calling credit card companies to cancel accounts.

    Yes, it’s a pain to always think of new passwords, but it can mean the difference between being safe and having someone access your information. Don’t use anything obvious (birthdate, kids’ names, SS#). Think “outside the box” and try to come up with something you can remember, but others can’t determine.

    Don’t forget about your kids — their identities can also be stolen. Many of them are online and new to this whole “cyber” world. They may not know what information is ok to share. Talk with them and monitor what they’re posting. In addition, schools ask for loads of personal information on a child (SS#, address, etc.). Make sure you know how this information is being used and that the documents are stored correctly.

    Visit www.ftc.gov to read more about keeping your identity safe.

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