In this digital world it has become increasingly easy to copy just about anything; including your identity. So how do you protect yourself? Here’s some tips:
- Review your credit card and bank statements regularly for suspicious activity.
- Request your Credit report at least once a year. Examine it for accounts you did not open.
- Keep sensitive hard copy information in a fire and watter proof safe, or a safe deposit box.
- Dispose of sensitive information by destroying it completely (i.e. cross-cut shredder).
- Get a P.O. box or locking mailbox, and deposit sensitive outgoing main directly at the carriers office.
- Use anti-spyware and virus protection on all Windows computers, or just get a Mac.
- Encrypt sensitive files on your computer and removable media.
- Keep your computer’s software up to date, especially the Operating System.
- Dispose of old computers and media securely. Deleting files or formatting the drive is not enough.
- Change your passwords and pins regularly. Use a password utility to auto-generate strong passwords.
- Never give out personal information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
- Never send any kind of personal information threw e-mail, even to people you trust.
- Never click on links claiming to be from financial institutions. Go to their web-sites directly your self instead.
- Reduce the amount of sensitive mail you get, including statements, credit card offers, etc.
- Remove yourself from pre-approved credit offers, junk mail, and telemarketing lists.
- Sign the back of your credit cards, and question the checkout person if they don’t check it or your identity.
- Get a freeze put on your credit for yourself and your children. This will also help you be more responsible with getting new credit.
- Incurage your doctor to stop asking for your SSN and using it as the primary ID for their records.
If you believe your information or cards have been stolen:
- Notify your card issuers immediately.
- Have card issuers correct any unauthorized transactions.
- Correct incorrect reports submitted to the credit bureaus.
- Change your PIN and passwords immediately.
If your SSN is being used without your authorization:
- Notify the credit bureaus and establish a fraud alert.
- Use a unique identification number assigned to you credit report for all communications.
- Send mail items as certified and with return receipt requests.
- File a report with the local police where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy of the report.
- Close the accounts that have been compromised or that were opened without your consent.
- Put a freeze on your credit, to prevent anyone from accessing your credit files.
Here’s some helpful web-sites:
Stop Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers: http://www.optoutprescreen.com/
Get off Junk Mail Lists: http://www.dmachoice.org/MPS/proto1.php
SS ID Theft Info: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html
Do Not Call List: http://www.donotcall.gov/ or 888-382-1222 from the number you want on the list.
Included with Apple computers
PGP – http://www.pgp.com/products/desktop_home
Google Toolbar for FireFox – http://www.google.com/tools/firefox/toolbar
IE 7 – http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp.safety/technologies/antiphishing
– Posted by S.J. Hollist