Rule #1: Get educated for free
Learning about identity theft, fraud, and cybercrime is our best defense against becoming a victim. Your next stop for identity theft information is—the Federal Trade Commission’s website: FTC Website: IDENTITY THEFT
Your tax dollars are hard at work educating you on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and to help you build a defensive wall of education around you and your family. And, this information can be freely shared, copied, emailed, downloaded, and reused for FREE.
Rule #2: View Your Credit Report Annually
Here is the official website sponsored by the three major credit bureaus: www.AnnualCreditReport.com
This central site allows you to request a FREE credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You may request your free credit report online, by phone or through the mail.
Rule #3: Protect Your Social Security # and your PII
Your PII (Personal Identifiable Information), are your SS#, Drivers’ License number, full name, and address. Your SSN along with these others is a first class ticket to fraud if it gets in the wrong hands. Treat your PII as confidential information and avoid giving it out unnecessarily. And documents that contain any PII either shred it or secure it.
For example, never include your SS# in an email, instant message or phone text message; and never include all of your PII together. Know your rights when it comes to legally protecting your Social Security number with the Social Security Agency.
Rule #4: Be Safe Online
Everything on your computer is at risk, and your computer needs excellent anti-virus and anti-spyware. Alarming statistics, say that virtually all home PCs are infected with spyware or viruses, and that 91% of these infections are dangerous. A lot of this malware is still distributed via email, but hackers are finding ever more innovative ways of infiltrating your computer.
Cybercriminals now plant malicious code on innocent, trusted websites, lying in wait for victims to come to them and be silently infected. There are 6,000 newly infected websites everyday! Google researchers say at least one in 10 web pages is booby-trapped with malware.
Some rules for preventing infection are:
- - Be careful about what you download
- - Think twice about installing freebie software
- - Avoid links offering sexy photos, promising discount products, congratulating you as a winner, etc
- - Scan your computer daily with industrial grade anti-spyware program
- - Consider a Different Browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari, Opera)
- - Get a Second (or Third) E-Mail Account
- - Use a separate (isolated) computer for financial transactions and online banking
- - Secure Passwords by using symbols (e.g. $, %, #) in addition to letters and numbers
Rule #5: Protect Your Whole Identity
Identity theft- related crimes occur in the United States at the alarming rate of one every 79 seconds! Yikes! Vigilantly monitoring your credit profile is one of the best things you can do to ensure the safety of your personal credit information. There are basically two ways to go – either monitor it yourself or purchase a service that will monitor your credit for you.
The above 4 rules, I offer for the “do-it-yourselfers” and here is a great resource for those wishing to purchase a service, iDefend.