10 Tips to protect your personal information
10 Tips to protect your personal information – According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, it takes 600 hours to restore your identity after a theft has taken place. The FTC’s new online resource aims to streamline the process of reporting identity theft to the FTC, IRS, credit bureaus, and to state and local officials.
ID theft happens when criminals use your personal information to file for a tax refund with the IRS or process a credit application to purchase an item or withdraw funds from the victims account(s). Victims usually learn of the crime after having their tax returns rejected because their impostors beat them to it, check bounce, or the victim receives dunning notices. N
- Monitor credit reports – By law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from the major bureaus: Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, and Innovis.
- Never provide personal information over public Wi-Fi or a network that’s not password protected.
- Password protections – the longer the better. Try disguising familiar phrases using a cipher.
- Don’t use the same password on all accounts and change them up frequently. The more variation, the better.
- Never store passwords on your computer. If you need to do it digitally, use an external hard drive or USB and disconnect it from the computer when you are finished.
- Watch out for phishing emails – Throw up an immediate red flag if you receive any email asking to confirm passwords, bank account numbers, or Social Security Numbers. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
- If you do receive a suspicious-sounding email, contact your service provider directly to verify its authenticity. If your bank is requesting updated information, log onto your online banking account and update it there (instead of clicking on the link in the email). If your account does not show need for an update, you’ll know the email was a scam.
- Take physical precautions – Do not carry your Social Security card with you or write it down on checks. Only give out your SSN if it is an absolute necessity. When filling in forms for organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other companies, leave the area asking for your SSN blank.
- Shred bills, credit offers, and expired credit cards to prevent dumpster divers from getting your personal info.
- Layer your cyber-security – Layer defenses with a firewall, antivirus, and anti-malware that includes anti-spyware.