Guest Post by Brandon Allred
The leading fraud problem in the United States is identity theft. The old methods of fraud involving dumpster diving and mail interception still exist, but with the new technological advancements we have seen over the past 20 years or so have allowed criminals to take things to a whole new level. No one is immune to identity theft and those who steal identities are becoming smarter and smarter each day. So what can we do? The only thing we can do is protect ourselves the best way we know how. Keep reading for some excellent advice on how to keep your identity for you and you alone.
Tip 1: Keep Your Social Private
Our social security numbers are our most important identifiers so should be kept private whenever possible. In some situations we have to share this number. For example, we need to disclose it when applying for credit cards, loans and to our medical providers. However, these people are bound by law to keep your number private and protected. Never fill out any forms online that request your full social security number and never give it over the phone no matter who is asking for it. If you must give it to a loan company, do so in person so you know exactly who is getting it. Over the phone you may be falling for a scam in which your identity will be stolen. Never use your social for computer passwords either. If someone hacks your computer (which happens quite often in email accounts) they not only have access to your email account, they have access to your entire life.
Tip 2: Use PO Boxes
Using a PO Box not only prevents mail fraud, it also keeps your private information under lock and key. If your information comes in a regular mailbox anyone can simply reach in and steal your identity.
Tip 3: Change up Passwords
Our computer passwords can sometimes be our downfall. Even if we choose one that we think nobody would ever think of, hackers are much more resourceful then we may think. Keep your information safe by changing your passwords a few times each year and by using capital and small letters, numbers, and symbols. Also use different passwords for each of your online accounts even though it is easier to use the same one for everything. Once a thief figures out that all of your passwords are the same it is easy for them to take over your whole life.
Tip 4: Install the Proper Programs
Make sure that your computer virus protection stays up to date. Install spyware, anti-malware and other security programs on all of your computer devices including smartphones and tablets.
Tip 5: Keep Your Social Media Info to a Minimum
It is common to see Facebook pages that contain people’s birthdays, places of residence, school names and other identifying information. No matter how common it is it is a very bad idea. This type of innocent seeming information can get you in a load of trouble when it comes to identity theft.
Tip 6: Watch Where You Pay Bills
Most people use the internet to pay bills these days. It is convenient but also dangerous unless you are using a secure network. Only do this if you are using your private computer. Public computers are nowhere near as secure and should therefore be avoided for transporting vital information.
Tip 7: Bluetooth Rules
When you are not using your Bluetooth device it should be disconnected so no information can be passed through it.
Tip 8: Properly Dispose of Written Information
A good investment is a paper shredder. You should never throw away bills, statements or any other mail or documents that contain personal information. Tearing them in halves is not a solid way of disposal either. They should be shredded so it is nearly impossible for anyone to put them back together. If you have a fire place or a burn pile, this is an even better way to dispose of paper information.
In order to really protect yourself these tips should be followed. Many people do not take identity theft seriously. They think that it is something that happens to other people; never them. The truth is that it can happen to anyone unless the proper precautions are taken.
Brandon Allred is a professional in the security industry. If you would like to learn more information please click here .