Unfortunately, the day and age of computer “hacking” is becoming more prominent on a daily basis. One only has to look at the most recent headlines regarding Chase bank, Target and Home Depot to understand the seriousness of this threat. Therefore, we have outlined some ways in which you can try to protect yourself from becoming a victim of this crime. Below are 8 tips on protecting yourself against identity theft.
1.) Be on guard. Protect your passwords by changing them at least on a monthly basis. Is this a pain; yes it is. However, is it worth ruining your life for the next 7-10 years should a thief steal your identity? This is what the FBI reports is the time it takes to get your life back in order whereby a lender or creditor will give you credit again.
2.) Avoid being the victim of a Phishing scam. Phishing is a term used when criminals send you emails that look authentic however are designed to get you to send your personal information back to them. To learn more about Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) read our article here.
3.) If your home computer is hooked up to the Internet via cable or a DSL modem, ensure you have some type of firewall protection in your anti-virus software or through Microsoft’s Window Defender.
4.) Make a list of all your account numbers such as your bank or other financial institutions as well as credit card numbers and store it in a safe place (not on your computer, or in your purse or wallet).
5.) Review your credit report annually. The best way to do this is by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Here, you can obtain a free copy of three of the four credit bureaus that monitor your credit. And yes, we did say four. Most people are unaware of CBC, however you can learn more about Identity Theft and protecting yourself the proper way by purchasing our eBook, Identity Theft on our home page, Nationwide Debt Reduction or on Amazon under the author T. Michael Sweeney.
6.) If you have not already done so, purchase a shedder for your home. You can usually pick one up for under $30.00 at one of those office supply stores. The key is to make sure you get one that sheds crisscross versus linier. Then use it! One person’s garbage is another persons (think thief) data mining treasure trove.
7.) Although convenient, do not leave mail in your home mailbox for the postman to pick up. Instead, locate the closest mailbox near your home and drop it in there. Some people have those red flags on their mailboxes which they raise to let the postman know there is mail to be picked up. Do not advertise to the world that you have mail to pick up!
8.) Do not use a debit card when making purchases on the Internet. Always use a credit card, as a credit card company will refund your money in cases of fraud. Conversely, if you use a debit card, the bank is not going to refund you your money. In addition, when making purchases online, ensure that the site you are on has an https in the beginning of the address. The added “s” tells you that this site has encrypted software to protect your purchase.