As hackers and online criminals become more savvy, the public needs to become more aware of the risks involved of having their personal and financial data compromised. One way to do this is to proactively reduce the risk of identity theft and data loss. Below are 5 ways to protect personal information both on and offline.
1. Be Careful About Sharing Information
Ensure that you know who is receiving your personal or financial information. Do not provide personal information unless it is absolutely necessary and it is clear who the requester is. If companies send emails asking for personal information, never click on email links. Instead, contact companies through customer service online or by phone.
Do not over share on social media and networking sites
When too much information is posted about yourself, identity thieves can use this information to access accounts and other personal information. Limit access to networking pages. Never post full names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers or Social Security numbers.
2. Safeguard Data
Keep all passwords private and browsers secure. Guard online transactions and use encryption software designed to scramble information sent over the Internet. If you believe you have any proprietary information or intellectual property, seek the counsel of a trademark attorney to find out how to protect it properly. Store and dispose of personal information in the most secure manner possible.
3. Keep Devices Secure
Use a main password on computers and other devices. Do not allow access to personal or company computers to unknown entities. Use a comprehensive anti virus program on all computers. Set the programs to run automatically and then check to ensure that the programs ran and that there are no security issues to deal with. Regularly maintain all computers to ensure that the anti virus and other programs are up to date.
4. Lock up financial documents and records
Keep originals in a safe or safe deposit box. Leave Social Security cards at home. Keep receipts in a safe place and shred all credit offers, applications, insurance forms, doctor statements, bank statements, checks, old charge cards, and similar items when no longer needed.
5. Carry only what is necessary
When out and about, only take along identification and the credit or and debit cards needed. Keep the rest locked up at home and always lock wallets or purses in safe places at work. Keep information secure from workers, roommates and strangers.
As outlined above, the five main ways to to ensure that personal and financial information is safeguarded is to 1) be careful of sharing information; 2) safeguard all data online; 3) keep all devices secure; 4) lock up or shred financial and personal paperwork; and 5) limit what information you carry.
By Tricia Borren