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Updated on 5/5/2016
It seems that each time I turn on the news or read the news on the Internet, some company somewhere has had their customer data stolen in some type of hack or security breach. But these types of hacks or security breaches are more common than just the ones we hear about in the news. A number of companies have had their data stolen simply won’t admit it or go public about it. In the last 12 months, I’ve come to know of three security breaches of my data online. The first was Adobe Systems, the second was Hulu and the third the most recent was the massive data breach at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Also last year, my credit card information was compromised at both Target and Home Depot.
For me personally, the Anthem security breach has the potential to be most damaging. This is because my Social Security number was stolen in the breach along with my email address, my home address, telephone numbers and employer information all of which can be used to duplicate my identity.
How to go about Protecting your Identity?
First and foremost the best practice is to be proactive in protecting your information. And when a breach does occur, is not so difficult to react to it limiting the amount of damage it may course. Admittedly I’m not a security expert, but some good common sense approaches do help.
1. Monitor your credit report by checking it least once a year. Better yet, sign up for a credit monitoring service that will notify you if there are any changes on your credit report. Most of them are free.
2. If you’re not going to be applying for any loans or credit cards or signing up for new utility services then place a fraud alert on your credit report. Fraud alerts are good for up to 90 days, so mark on your calendar when the 90 day period ends and then renew the fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert, alerts creditors who pull your report that there are required to take additional steps to verify your identity.
3. This one should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway, if you credit cards or bank account numbers are compromised or you suspect that they may have been compromised then change the numbers.
4. Never give out your Bank Account information especially over the phone even to that pesky bill collector. Also, if at all possible, avoid using personal checks.
5. Never use your credit cards online unless you are shopping from a trusted store such as Amazon. Use a payment service such as PayPal or Google Wallet instead. Always check for the lock and green bar at the top of your web browser in the address bar.
6. Only use your debit card close to home and never more than 100 miles away from home. If you are more than 100 miles away from home, use your credit card as the money won’t disappear out of you check account should a problem occur. The only time you should use your Debit Card when out of town is for cash withdraws from a trusted ATM (for example a ATM at a Bank).
7. Set alerts on your bank accounts, credit card accounts and debit cards to notify you of all chargers over a certain amount, all foreign transactions and all card not present transactions such as online payments.
8. Never use the password to your email address on any other website. This one is so important I’ll say it again; never use the password to your email address on any other website. Your Email address is use to identify you should you forget your password on another site.
9. Use different passwords for each website you visit or use. It’s okay using the same username but make sure the passwords are completely different. This way if your username and password for that site are compromised, you only have one password to change and only one website to worry about.
10. Periodically check that your accounts have not been compromised by checking your Email address on breachalarm.com/
11. Use strong passwords that can’t be guessed at by someone else.
12. If available, use two factor identification when logging into websites. Facebook, twitter, Google, PayPal and all banking and financial websites offer two factor identification free of charge. Simply put, when try logging into a website from an unknown computer, part of the identification process of the website is to send you a text message containing a code to your mobile phone. You use this code to complete the login process.
13. Consider using a password manager such as LastPass for the all websites you visit with the exception of your primary email address website. Also, generate passwords for websites using the password manager of your choice.
Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Work Smart and Travel does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provide