We have all heard about this problem in our open society and yet we all think that it cannot happen to us.
That only happens to other people.
Then we listen to commercials with companies like LifeLock to protect your identity and we think that it sounds like a good idea, maybe I will get around to doing that someday and subscribing.
Next thing you know, you have $2,000 or more missing from your bank account over a series of transaction that you are certain you never did.
Or some mysterious credit transactions just start to show up over several months. Or your PayPal account has been logged into by someone other than you.
So you go to your banker or Credit Card Company or log into your PayPal to see what is going on. All three entities tell you to cancel your accounts and start new ones.
Of course with all the direct deposits going on, the auto-pay withdrawals and your clients paying you through PayPal you now know you have a mess on your hands.
From this one experience, it was apparent that certain steps can be taken by you to protect yourself from Identity theft.
Here are a few things you can do.
It is recommended that you have a secret list, not anywhere on your computer or hard drives of about 15 to 20 passwords that you can use and rotate out.
It has to be at least 13 as most platforms will not allow you to use the last twelve. Each of these passwords should contain a minimum of nine characters with at least one of the following in them.
- Capital letters
- Small letters
So a good password will look like this at a minimum: Abes9875#. This is because it has at least one each of the above and is at least nine characters in length.
Once a month, take some time and login into your secure password protected sites and change the password as described above.
Public Wi-fi Services
Identity theft can happen anywhere and the next thing to be careful of is your use of public Wi-Fi services at coffee shops, retail stores, restaurants and so forth.
They are nice to use for standard internet access. However, they should never be used to log into your password protected sites.
A better option would be to do that with your own home service that is password protected or use your cellular carriers Hotspot service.
These hotspot services are part of your cell phone plan, are unique to you with your own password protection.
The other added benefit is that they are portable. So no real need to use the public Wi-Fi service!
Update Your Antivirus Software
The next thing you should do is to keep your anti-virus software up to date and active. I used Comcast as my ISP and it comes with a free Norton Anti-virus software and I only have a great experience with them. There are many great companies offering this. Make sure you talk with your computer sales person as to some of the best ones on the market.
Do not just settle with the one that came with your device.
Some of the more severe threats actually take over your machine and hold your documents ransom.
That is why a best practice will be to store everything in the cloud. Your device is hardware and at some point, it will need to be replaced or repaired.
If all of your sensitive documents and pictures are stored at your secure cloud service, then your device is just that, a device for accessing, not holding the documents!
Subscribe to Identity Theft Protection Services
Lastly, subscribe to a service like LifeLock or other identity theft protection service.
I suggest this as last because, without the steps above, you will be lulled into thinking you are securing simply because you paid for this service. It does not excuse you from protecting yourself defensively first.