Intersections’ Consumer Security Adviser Neal O’Farrell shares some important tips to help keep protect your identity!
One of the key components of any successful security plan is remembering to conduct those routine security tasks that help keep you one step ahead of the bad guys, and making sure you haven't overlooked any obvious precautions.
So with that in mind, here's a quick checklist to remind you.
Have you checked your credit reports lately? Your credit reports provide early warning that someone might be using your personal information to take out new credit. If you're not using Identity Guard to watch your reports for you, use a free service like www.annualcreditreport.com to get free copies of all three credit reports.
Do you have the right virus protection in place? You not only need good virus protection, you also need to make sure you've set it to update itself automatically so that you're protected from the latest threats. But now you can go one step further. There is a new type of virus protection that's cloud based. It takes up very little space on your computer and won't interfere with your traditional antivirus software. And it's often free. So you can have multiple layers of virus protection working at the same time.
Have you changed your passwords lately? Changing your passwords is a very important part of security, much like checking the tire pressures on your car. It's a good idea to change important passwords at least every six months, and make sure they're long, hard to guess, and well-protected. You should also consider moving to passphrases instead.
Are you protected from keyloggers? Keyloggers will hide on your computer, steal your passwords and logins and get access to your accounts. If that turns out to be a bank account, it could cost you dearly. Anti-keylogger software will encrypt or scramble everything you type so that a keylogger will not be able to understand it.
Are you using safe surfing tools? So much of today's malware lies in wait on compromised web sites to infect unprotected computers that visit those sites. Google recently had to contact more than 50,000 web site owners to inform them that malware had been detected in their sites.
One way to avoid these sites is to use one of the many free safe surfing tools that will quickly test a site you want to visit and tell you before you click on it if it's safe. Some of these services will even tell you if the site has a reputation for privacy breaches or grabs personal information about you that it shouldn't.
Have you Spring-cleaned your Facebook page? Facebook continues to be a major hunting ground for thieves and scammers because it contains a wealth of personal information on more than 900 million people around the world. One way to protect yourself is to spend some time on your Facebook page removing any personal information that might help a thief learn more about you, and checking your privacy settings so that they're set to the max.
Have you done a home security audit? Believe it or not, not all identity thefts are high tech. Identity theft is the new burglary, and intruders are after any personal information they can find lying around your home. So go through your home, collect anything that might be of value to a thief — like tax returns, financial correspondence, and anything with your Social Security number on it - and hide it away. And be sure to check your car too. I recently came across an identity thief who was in possession of more than 150 identities he had managed to gather by breaking into cars.
Learn more about identity theft protection.