If you are reading this then obviously you enjoy spending time online whether that be reading blogs, social media or online shopping. That means that any information that you share across the web is subject to being stolen or hacked which is why it is important to familiarize all of ourselves in how to protect our identity. We have the ability to avoid identity theft and decrease our risk of becoming victims.
If you have been reading my blog for a while then you know that I am all about DIY and shop at Home Depot a lot. So when earlier this year I heard they had a security breach in their payment data systems you know I was a little shaken. Luckily they found no evidence of information being compromised so that is good but you can never be too cautious with your identity. Here are a few ways that I keep myself and my family from getting victimized.
First and foremost… Do NOT give out your SSN unless it is necessary.
Purchase a shredder! My husband tore up my shredder because he is heavy handed and wants to stick way too many documents in at one time but it is something we most definitely will replace. Shred everything that has any kind of personal identifiers on it that could be used against you. This means even junk mail credit card applications.
Consider using an identity protection service: LifeLock provides identity protection products and services you can count on. In fact, with LifeLock Advantage™ and LifeLock Ultimate Plus™, they can help you detect fraudulent activity with alerts for cash withdrawals, balance transfers and large purchases.
If you are like me you do all of your banking online but don’t just blow off your statements. Regularly check them over for any suspicious activity.
Use strong passwords! This is something I have been trying to get better at because lets face it sometimes it is hard to remember a bunch of different ones. A good strong password needs to be at least 8 characters long and contain upper and lower case letters as well as numeric and non alphabetical characters.
NEVER give out personal information over the phone. If you called the business and you know who you are talking to then you are good but otherwise just don’t do it.
If you are mailing bills off then place them in a mail collection box or drop them by the post office.
Protect your computer! All of our computers holds all sorts of information on it so protecting it from being breached is super important. Keep your virus and spyware programs up to date. If you are getting rid of an old computer remove the hard drive before selling it.
Protect your cell phone and tablets!! I know with today’s smartphones you can do just about everything and then some on your phones so it is important they are protected just like your computers. Secure your phone and tablets with a lock feature and password protect it. You never know when it could get lost and if you can’t get it back then at least the person who snatched it can’t use your information against you.
Never open or reply to suspicious emails. If you don’t know who they are from just delete them. A reputable business would never ask for your personal information over an email so don’t fall victim from these phishing scams.
Regularly check your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year and can actually make it three times a year by only doing one major bureau at a time. This is how we check our credit 3 times annually.
We move a lot because of the military so we have it set up that anything being opened under our credit has to contact us first for approval. We also have our banking turned off for out of country purchases. We know we aren’t going out of country and won’t be making purchases out of country. It might seem like a little bit of a hassle to take these extra steps but it actually has saved us in the past. My husband was contacted by our bank asking if we tried to make a purchase in Canada and of course we were no were near Canada. Because we had it set up the way we did they declined the purchase right away and contacted us letting us know what happened and sent my husband a new card. A few moments worth of a hassle is definitely better than the hassle of trying to get it straightened after something bad happens.
If you are thinking about purchasing Lifelock be sure to get 10% off with promo code “breachwatch.”
How do you protect yourself from identity theft?
(original picture by digitalart, modified by me)