Avoiding Identity Theft Online
Everyone these days is buying something online. Sometimes it is for personal use, but sometimes that can also be for business. Identity theft does not just happen to the ignorant, it can also happen to intelligent people who happen to leave the wrong information available for predators to find.
The first step to securing your identity online is to use a strong password. Wherever possible, letters, numbers, and a special character can be used. Avoid names, birthdays, places you know, or your children’s’ or spouse’s names or birthdays as well. This is important for every E-Mail address and online banking login you have. Never stick your passwords to your laptop with stickers. People make the excuse that they forget, but this is a case where forgetting is as inexcusable as forgetting to hold the steering wheel while you drive.
Frequently check your credit report for lines of credit or debts that you do not recognize. If you see them, a lawyer or good credit counselor can help.
Do not share your social security number with anyone other than your spouse. That number is critical. There are a number of services that provide protection for your social security number, but personal vigilance is all you really need.
It is vital to watch out for your mail. People could be ordering credit cards in your name and sent to your address and then they can pick the envelope right out of the mail. The same axiom is equally valid for checks that you are sent. All a criminal needs to do is head to the ghetto to the nearest “no ID” check cashing place and bingo, what was supposed to be your payday is now a payday for them. These types of scammers particularly look for tax refund checks and also the Social Security checks of the elderly of disabled.
Are you getting notices in the mail from credit card companies that say, “You’re pre-approved for a new ____Card”? If so you are on a list that is sharing your identity. Call 888-567-8688 to be removed from this list permanently. You will have to provide your social security number for this action.
People need to use a secure PIN number for their bank and credit cards. Please remember our advice about birthdays. This pin number should be completely arbitrary. Make the extra effort and memorize it. If you write your bank PIN number on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet with your bank card, your life savings could be wiped out in days.
Be very careful when you shop online. Make sure the top of the browser bar has https:// instead of http://. The S is for security, and it indicates that the information is being sent in an encrypted manner. Do not use your bank card with your life savings in your account to buy things online. There is very limited protection for using a bank card, and you are liable for fraudulent purchases. Instead, get a great credit card with consumer protection in case of theft. Most cards limit your liability to $50 in case your card number is stolen, provided you report the theft quickly. If you do not want to pay interest, pay back your card immediately. Using a credit card responsibly helps improve your credit as well.
For businesses, be careful about trusting employees with access to the online banking for the business. There are ways to reconcile the books through software automation between your online bank accounts and your accounting software. These methods are known to the Web and I, and we are prepared to help you. To discuss your privacy concerns informally, call us at any time at 646-853-0573.