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Let’s Play Identity Theft Roulette

Identity theft roulette It’s the fabulous new game that’s sweeping the globe.  Every day you hear about some organization losing someone’s personal information.  These activities go from the simple act of finding someone’s paper credit card statement to sophisticated hackers stealing customer data from a website or database.  It can get a little overwhelming sometimes and make you feel like you are in a gambling casino.  Let’s look at some of the ways that people steal information.

Dumpster Diving – recently some hospitals in Massachusetts had paper documents with patient information show up at the dump.

Listening to your Phone Conversation – consumers give their credit card information to someone over the phone in a public place.

Using Digital Copiers – reports from CBS News showed that copiers keep scanned, copied and printed documents on their hard drives for others to grab.

Finding USB Drives – people lose these devices all the time with personal information on them.

Walking out the Door – employees walk out of the office with paper or electronic documents with customer information.

Preventing some of the things are difficult because you need to rely on the security of the organization that has your information.  Here are a few tips to help you prevent identity theft:

  1. Don’t give out personal information unless absolutely necessary
  2. Check you privacy settings on social networking sites
  3. Shred credit card statements and other mail before throwing them away
  4. Don’t use the same password for all your online activities
  5. Ensure only authorized people can access confidential information
  6. Review your bills and financial statements regularly for suspicious activity
  7. Keep your computers (including servers) up to date with patches
  8. Don’t click on suspicious email links or go to suspect websites
  9. Use a secure file transfer service to send confidential files
  10. Use encrypted portable media for moving files

 

What can you do if you think you’re the victim of identity theft?

  • Notify your financial institutions
  • Inform your credit card issuers
  • Contact the fraud departments of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion
  • File a police report with local law enforcement

 

Some of this is common sense, but we all need the occasional reminder.  There is no need to be paranoid or panic.  You need to get in the habit of prevention, rather than spinning the roulette wheel and hoping for the best.  Just like you got into the habit of locking your front door as you leave your house, you can easily get into the habit of theft prevention.

 

Photo credit Sunny Side Up

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