Be Smart

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Protect Personal Information

Only provide personal information on a need-to-know basis, and seriously reconsider any public announcements of such information. Social media sites, personal blogs, resumes posted online, dating websites, etc. all provide a wealth of personal information that can be used to steal identities. Consider each and every instance of personal information, and evaluate whether or not it is necessar y for that information (or portions of it) to be made public. Zealous protectors of their identity can even have a little fun with this piece of protection. Consider creating an alternate name for places with public announcements, like restaurants and mechanic shops.

Social media sites can do more than just publish personal information that can lead to identity theft. Some of the information posted on social media sit es may provide thieves with enough information to let them enter your home and take physical property as well. When you post information about your vacation plans and check-ins, it acts as an open invitation for unscrupulous individuals to enter a vacant home. Think about it, your name and address can easily be found but just about anyone and the majority of social media users leave their profiles open to the public. If someone has your name and address and you constantly update your status and you check in at a movie theater or restaurant that instantly lets a thief know that they have free reign to your home for at minimum an hour and a half.

Be ultra-secure and leave that information offline.

Also, ensure that all personal accounts require passwords in order for changes or inquiries to be made. Create unique passwords for each account and memorize them. Discuss the privacy policy for companies that hold all personal accounts, and gain a thorough understanding of how they may use personal information (opt-out of information distribution when necessary).

It is important for you to remember never to copy important information such as birth certificates, social security cards, credit cards, driver’s license, etc. at large public copy machines.Every image processed through a large copy machine is stored on an internal hard drive which can easily be accessed by anyone with even a limited amount of computer skill.

Do not open or respond to suspicious emails, and install anti-virus software along with a firewall to prevent online intruders from tracking personal internet activities. Also, consider that email is not a very secure method of information transmission, and be wary of trading information through it. Research the latest trends in internet scams, and be on the alert for these activities and tip offs. Finally, consider creating a separate email account that contains no personal information and is only used for suspected spam (such as special offers, sign up promotions, etc.).