Amidst a digital age and the digitization of information, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Recent studies show that every minute, 19 identities are stolen. Headlines have shown data breach after data breach taking place at major retailers. And as seen in the case of Sony Pictures, no matter how large the corporation is, or how much security is applied to personal information, with today’s breaches, everyone is at risk.
To help prevent theft from occurring, the American Consumer Credit Counseling organization advises taking these preemptive steps.
1. Be elusive on social media. Try to exclude specific, important information from your social media profiles. Minimize details in your “About Me” sections, and leave out phone numbers or addresses. This information is prime knowledge for hackers. Also, be sure to set all your privacy settings to create a secure profile.
2. Strengthen your online passwords. While it’s easier to remember passwords with our birthdays or hometowns in them, try to make your password a little more complex. Use punctuation and different capitalization. Also, veer away from using one password for all your accounts; if one is hacked, all your information across accounts can be compromised.
3. Be wary with your email address. While shopping online, or creating required accounts, use a new email address. Creating an email address for yourself is an easy task, and it’s best to have a specific one for online activity. Use a primary email address for personal information; use your secondary one for shopping, newsgroups, or social networking sites. Make sure to only give your primary email address to people you know.
4. Look for signs. Look for suspicious red flags when you’re on websites or signing up for mailing lists. Make sure your online purchases come from companies with secure payment pages and privacy policies. You can check Web addresses: if there is an ‘s’ located after the ‘http’ (https://), the website is secure. If not, don’t use it. Never respond to emails asking for account information or passwords. If a “bank” is asking for this information electronically, make sure to call the bank directly.
5. Monitor what you’ve shared. Identity thieves gain access to personal information by piecing together information over multiple websites. Make sure to think about what information you have where online.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.