Posted By RichC on January 19, 2014
The much publicized Obamacare, Target and Neiman Marcus security issues are an in-your-face reminder (receive my email from Target last week) that individuals need to be wary and take precautions with their financial, medical and personal identity information. Having been through the nightmare of ID theft back in the 1990s, before companies or banks were paying much attention to their customers information, I can tell you that it is not an easy thing to clean up. What was frustrating to me was that I tracked down the “criminal” and gave the information to the FTC and law enforcement … yet they did not have the tools or resources to prosecute. I was “this >||< close” to driving down to Atlanta (where the person lived) and administering personal justice. Deterrent? Nope! Something should have been done.
Six steps to minimize Identity Fraud/Theft and potential financial impact?
- Use commonsense when handling “paper documents” containing sensitive personal data and switch to electronic records when possible. Buy a shredder.
- Secure your online ID and create a careful system of password protection in order to secure your log-ins and the electronic information you keep on your computer. Upgrade your passwords to make them longer and include CAPS, symbols and numbers … and consider changing them often. Flush your cache on your browser or use a program like CCleaner once a week or so to clear caches and cookies.
- Don’t use comment passwords, easy security words (mother’s maiden name) and consider using an encrypted password tools like Keepass or Lastpass. If two-step security is offered, consider using the extra step today that might save you from a big headache later.
- Check your credit reports (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) and “try” to keep it as clean and crisp as possible. It makes it easy to monitor and far more attractive to lenders. Consider adding a fraud alert status so those issuing credit in your name are particularly careful. Also a “monitoring service” can be added ($) and alerts sent by email when things change … peace of mind** if you are concerned you might be a target.
- Reconsider what information you keep on your “easy to misplace” smartphone, tablet or notebook computer. At minimum secure it with a secure log-in and IF available, set up a security wipe as soon as possible if the device is ever stolen.
- Wallet and purse: Minimize what you carry and embrace the “less is better” philosophy when it come to numbers of ID cards, credit and debit banking cards and difficult to replace items … and make a copy of what you do carry so calling to cancel is simplified. I’ve never carried my Social Security card and see no reason it needs to be in my wallet. That said, I’m waiting for my new Ebay purchased BigSkinny bifold wallet to arrive so I can purge even more from my budging trifold (perhaps a future review post?).