5 Ways to Help Prevent
Identity Theft

In this day and age, large retail companies and social media sites are not immune to an occasional security breech. In the shadow of these events, you may start to wonder, “What can I do to protect my identity?”

 Here are a few simple things you can do today to better protect yourself from fraud, phishing, identity theft and hacking.

Choose good passwords and PINs. Try to choose words or numbers that no one else would be able to guess and do not use the same password on multiple accounts. Sometimes you can switch numbers and letters to make it a harder password to crack. Use an “@” instead of an “A” or a “$” instead of an “S.” The options are limitless. For example, take a look at how we turned this blog name, HowAboutThemApples, into a super safe password, H0w@b0utThem@pp1e$.

Protect Your Computer. Just because you cannot see anything wrong with your computer does not mean that it is safe to use. Hackers use programs and spyware which allow them access to your PC. You can protect yourself with anti-spyware programs that will add a layer of protection and your personal documents.

Don’t Go Phishing. Phishing scams are generally “spoofed” emails and fraudulent websites specifically designed to fool recipients into releasing personal and financial information.  Emails that are sent to you asking for your social security number or credit card information are never okay. Be suspicious of any email that is marked “urgent request” and asks for your personal information. If you are not sure if an email is authentic, do not follow the links in the email. Do not complete emailed forms that request personal information. Double check that websites you are submitting your credit card or personal information through are secure. You can either do this by checking for the padlock that appears at the bottom right of your screen, or look for https:// to appear in front of the web address.

Don’t Accidently Give Your Identity Away. If you sell or trash your PC, restore your PC to factory default to ensure all of your personal data is cleared. You’d be surprised what hackers can find buried in your hard drive.  If you are not sure how to properly clear your PC, take it to a retailer who specializes in computers and ask for their help.

Be careful shopping online. Consider a separate credit card strictly for online purchases. It will be easier to cancel if there are any issues and it will have less effect on your day-to-day life. Do not store any information on a store website. Although it may be convenient, it can be a huge loss to you if the site is ever hacked. Monitor the site URL. Look for the lock symbol or “https” to appear before the site address. These symbols verify that the site is safe.

These steps should help you feel more secure whether you’re simply surfing the net, checking email or making an online purchase.