When we gab about our personal life on social media sites, we may very well be providing all the information scammers need to defraud us. Some banks are even changing the way they ID customers to reduce the risk of identity theft, says the New York Times‘ money blog, Bucks.
Prevent identity theft with these 7 9 tips.
Think you’re not at risk? Even if you’re tight lipped on Facebook and Twitter, you are STILL are at risk!
Does your bank ask for your Social Security number to verify your identity? Do you give out your zip code to cashiers?
Giving your zip code to cashiers can seem innocent, but many stores use that info to track down your address and send you a store catalog. Others sell your info to a data broker and that’s how you start receiving junk mail. Your junk mail (for example, pre-approved credit card offers) can then fall into the wrong hands. Yikes! In fact, two states — California and Massachusetts — have said asking for your zip violates their privacy laws. Reciting your social security number every time you initiate a conversation with your bank puts you at risk for having your number stolen.
Here are seven nine steps to protect your personal information.
1. Be very careful about what you share. Whether it’s online, on the phone, or to cashiers, avoid making it easy for scammers to find information to answer security questions. Skip posting info like pet names, or the high school you graduated from online, especially if your profiles are public. This info can allow scammers to easily answer security questions and break into accounts.
2. Create strong p@55w0rd5. Include numbers and symbols to keep your accounts safe. And whatever you do, don’t use one password for all your accounts! If you have trouble tracking your passwords (who doesn’t!) there are apps that will do this for you!
3. Keep your devices secure. Password protect your phones, laptops, and tablets. After I almost got my iPhone stolen, I set my mobile to delete all the information in case someone tries to break in after several attempts. A simple phone password makes your phone worthless to whoever finds it.
4. Keep your antivirus software up-to-date on all devices, including your smartphone. Nuff said.
5. Enter personal information on secured sites only. This is the best way to protect yourself if you like shopping online. Make sure the site’s address has “https” in front of it before you enter credit card info. The “s” stands for secure and is the important part. Be wary of retailers you’ve never heard of.
6. Skip clicking on links in emails. Instead, type in the site’s address. Many times hackers will disguise a link on a legit email to send you to a fake site to capture your info. Better yet, if the email contains nothing but a suspicious link, delete it from the get go.
7. Only use secure wireless networks. It’s best to skip a public WiFi when shopping online or doing your online banking. Using your smartphone’s internet connection is your best option.
8. Shred your receipts and anything that has your full name on it. Better to be safe than sorry! And you never know who may see your trash or recycling.
9. Freeze your credit. It’s the safest way to make sure nobody opens a line of credit in your name.
Stealing documents out of your trash is a declining crime (thank goodness for paper shredders!) — but protecting yourself online is a growing concern! BB almost got her identity stolen.
How do you keep your personal information safe?