Shredded paper pile featuring partially shreded social security card at center.

Identity Protection

Online Identity Protection

  • Use strong passwords! One of the most effective tools at your disposal for protecting yourself online is to use a strong password. You’ve seen it before, but don’t use words that you can find in a dictionary as your password (even foreign language dictionaries). Use a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters in a string of at least 8 in length.
  • Use different passwords (and usernames if possible) for your various accounts. Yes, this is burdensome, but at least use fresh ones for your critical financial (i.e. bank) and merchant (i.e. Amazon) accounts.
  • Make sure that you’re using secure browsing. Each browser has its own way of showing that you’re on a secure website, but most have a symbol that appears as a small padlock that is either open or closed. Make sure that sensitive browsing such as your bank or your favorite online shopping website is secure.
  • Log off when you’re finished. Several websites, such as Amazon, will keep you logged on even if you close your browser. Be safer by logging off when you’re finished shopping.
  • Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. Even if your computer is compromised by the bad guys, don’t let them use it at their convenience.
  • Watch what you post to social media. We will be posting a special segment on social media in the near future, but for now simply think of it as a place where the bad guys like to hang out too.
  • Be careful adding new apps to your smartphone. They can be infected with malware that can compromise your privacy. Only load apps from trusted sources such as the Apple or Google stores.

Offline Identity Protection

  • The US Postal Service is still around. Keep an eye on your postal mail. The old tricks of sending out scams through the postal system are making a comeback.
  • Keep your personal information personal. Telephone scams are also becoming popular again. As we shared earlier with you, don’t share your social security number, credit or debit card number, or even your date of birth with anyone that you don’t know and trust.
  • Use a shredder. Don’t let someone sifting through your trash find a treasure.
  • You should check your credit report at least every year and along with other major purchases.

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