Thursday, February 13, 2014

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

I've noticed a lot of news stories lately about data thefts, identity theft and other similar issues.  Personally I have been lucky to never experience anything more than a few invalid charges on a credit card which have been noticed immediately.  I try to be smart about keeping my information private and not clicking on links in emails from strangers, all of the obvious stuff.

As a general rule, I try to follow these common sense guidelines:

  1. It's never a good idea to use the same password for everything that you do online.
  2. It's also not a good idea to use obvious passwords such as birthdays, the names of family members, etc. - these are too easy to guess or to find through a little light social mining on your facebook page.
  3. It's good practice to change your important passwords occasionally.
  4. Make your life easier when it comes to passwords and invest in a password manager like Roboform.  It will remember your passwords for you and keep them encrypted.  See for more information.  This is one tool that I've used for a long time and I've recommended to a lot of people because I use it personally, it's easy and inexpensive.
  5. Don't carry your social security card in your wallet.
  6. Use a  password on your mobile devices like your tablet and cell phone.  Also, if available, set up the app for "where's my iphone" as appropriate for your device.  It will locate a lost or stolen device for you and also you enable to wipe its data remotely if necessary.
  7. Never try to put electronic devices like phones, tablets or laptops in checked luggage when you fly.  This may seem obvious but some people do still try to do it and it never ends well.
  8. When using public wifi hotspots, try to avoid doing anything sensitive such as banking, just in case someone nearby is monitoring the wifi and capturing information from it.
  9. Use a password on your home wifi network.  This prevents anyone from using your connection and it also gives one line of defense against someone who tries to pick up your data from it (see #7).
  10. If you receive any offers for credit in the mail, you should shred them before throwing them away.
  11. You should check on your own credit report periodically, or at least annually, to confirm that there is nothing fraudulent on there.
Have any good tips to share?  Feel free to post in the comments.  Stay safe everyone.

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