Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2016: 8 ways to protect yourself from identity theft
Identity theft has progressively become a serious problem that claims innocent bystanders as victims every day. Preventing identity theft begins with understanding the basics of managing your personal information carefully and sensibly.
By following these eight precautions, you can help protect your identity and personal information:
- Be careful saving and storing information on your computer. Storing sensitive information, such as financial spreadsheets, bank statements or even tax returns, on your computer places you at risk. Identity thieves can hack into your system and steal this information. If you decide to sell or simply no longer use a certain computer, reformat or remove the sold/unused computer’s hard drive.
- Stay on top of your credit information. Check your credit reports on a regular basis and ensure that the information is both up to date and accurate. Review your credit card charges regularly online.
- Keep records in a secure place, and keep track of your account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers. Separate your account records from your passwords and PINs. (NOTE: Be sure to create complex passwords and to change them on a regular basis.)
- Keep online transactions secure. If you are doing business or other transactions, be sure you do so from a secured site and use a strong password to access the site to make transactions. Do not store your credit card or bank information on any site.
- Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone. Identity thieves often call to obtain personal and/or financial information.
- Only carry essential documents with you. Do not carry extra credit cards that you rarely use, and do not carry your social security card or your passport (unless you are traveling).
- Do not have new checks sent to your house. Rather, pick checkbooks up directly from your bank and request to receive bank statements electronically. If statements are sent to your house, someone could gain access to your account numbers (as well as other personal and financial information).
- Be cautious what you throw away. Identity thieves often rummage through trash to obtain information. To prevent identity thieves finding your information in the garbage, shred your receipts, credit card offers and statements, bank statements, checks, and other sensitive information.
REMEMBER: Stay alert and continue to research new methods that identify thieves use to steal personal information. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself and your family.
For more information, contact VUIT Security Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org.