A recent national security breech has left consumers concerned about protecting their identity. Your personal information is floating around everywhere. Any place you have done business has a record of your personal information. The local retail chain you love so much. The mortgage company. The phone company. Everywhere.
How do you protect yourself if your information is floating around in cyberspace waiting for someone to steal and take advantage of? It’s not possible to erase what is already in cyberspace, but there are ways to protect yourself from identity thieves.
- Review your credit history and review it often. Long gone are the days where you need to pay for a credit report. The three credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, allow you to check your credit once yearly for free, but you should do so more often to catch any suspicious activity. One idea is to get your free report from a different agency every 4 months so it will not only be free, but you will get an accurate picture from each agency since agencies may have discrepancies between them.
- Sign up for email/text alerts when possible. I’ve caught identity thieves on two separate occasions because the company they stole from sent me a confirmation email. I was able to quickly take action, report the crime, and get my money back.
- Change your passwords routinely. I know this is a pain, but its essential to safeguarding your online life. Make it a habit to change your passwords every 3-6 months to accounts such as your bank, email, online shopping, etc. Make your passwords hard for someone to crack by using symbols, numbers, and letters. And don’t use the same password for multiple accounts…once they crack one they have access to all accounts with that same password.
- Invest in a good shredder. Shred all documents containing personal information before tossing them in the trash.
- Be cognizant of who you give your personal information to. Make sure you enter personal information only on trusted websites. Never respond to an email requesting your login information and password. If the website or email looks fishy check into it before submitting information.
Implementing these tips will help keep your personal information safe and secure from cyber thieves. A few changes now can save a lot of heartache and lost money later. Next week I will cover what to do if the unfortunate happens. Stay tuned to learn how to get your life back on track from a stolen identity.
In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at http://renursing.wordpress.com.