Monday, April 5, 2010

Tips for Protection against Identity Theft


by BOB

Don’t be an easy identity theft target

Although some identity theft is electronic and sophisticated, most identity theft actually still takes place by dumpster diving and mail theft. So, depending on how secure your garbage can is, you may want to think twice about what you put in it. It is a great place for identity thieves to find a wealth of information about you.

Tips to prevent identity theft

Here are just a few tips and guidelines to follow for decreasing your chance of identity theft. While it seems that following some basic tips will prevent most chances of identity theft, if you are looking for a more thorough solution you can try a service like LifeLock.
Never E-mail Sensitive Information
My employer has drilled this into our heads over the last few years. They have said that email is as private as a postcard; a lot of eyes could see it before it gets to its destination. Whether or not that many eyes actually see our email, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution when using sensitive information.
So, whether at home or at work think about what gets typed into an email. Be wary of including account numbers, user names, passwords, Social Security or PIN numbers, or credit card information.
Pick good passwords
Choose user names, PINs and passwords that are difficult to guess. Don’t use your birthday, phone number or any other obvious personal data. They also say it is a good idea to type your log-in information each time you go online instead of letting your browser save it for you.
Limit Personal Information
Always use a healthy dose of skepticism with incoming calls or incoming emails. It that personal really from the company that they say they are? You shouldn’t disclose personal information over the phone or via e-mail unless you initiated the call or email.
Practice Internet Safety
You should try to avoid using public computers to review personal information and account details because simply closing your browser does not automatically clear the browser’s memory. The information stored in cache is still available until deleted.
Look for sites that offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. You can tell if a site uses SSL by checking to see if there is a locked padlock in the lower-right hand corner of your browser window. Also, when you log on to a secure site in the address bar you will see the, “http” change to “https.” These are good indicators that the site is secure.
Protect your identity with a shredder
Buy a shredder and destroy (or safely file) anything that has credit card information or your Social Security number.
Be cautious with Outgoing Mail
Deposit outgoing mail in the United States Post Office boxes rather than your home mailbox.
Get Your Credit Report
Review your credit reports from the three main credit bureaus (i.e., Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) at least annually. Federal law requires these credit bureaus to each give you a free copy once a year. If you really want to keep a close eye on your report, you could get one from each every four months.
I recommend using These guys make it easy to get all three once a year for free. Many other credit report websites will make it very difficult to get the free reports. If you notice that the information on one of your credit reports is inaccurate, contact the credit bureau to investigate.
Equifaxoffers a service where they monitor your credit report for you. If you don’t have time to monitor it or don’t feel like it, this could be a good option. I personally have not signed up with them yet, so I can’t attest to how good they are.
Check Your Statements
Watch for unusual purchases or transactions on your statements and report them immediately. Also, if your statement appears to have been opened and resealed, contact the issuing institution as once.
Use Antivirus Software
Make sure your antivirus software (Clamwin is a good free version) is up to date, turned on, and enable the firewall on your PC.
Review Privacy Policies
When applying for an account or ordering a product online, review the Web site’s privacy policy to make sure you are dealing with a reputable company who won’t sell everything they know about you to spammers-R-us.
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