Happy New Year! Today, Intersections’ Consumer Security Adviser Neal O’Farrell starts our year off with some safety tips.
I've always maintained that the best way to protect yourself from cybercrime and identity theft, whether you're a global corporation or an individual, is to have a plan. That's probably why I called my business My Security Plan. The idea is simple. If you don't plan your security, you have little chance of protecting yourself against the endless onslaught of existing and new threats.
But if you do have a plan, it's much easier to keep track of all the threats you face, the defenses you have in place, and all the spinning plates of security you have to keep from crashing down.
The best news is that a security plan is actually very simple. It's just a list of your security priorities, goals and rules that you can turn to any time as a quick reminder. And it can be as simple as a single page that can easily be shared with family or employees.
- Check your credit report. If the Christmas Holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for identity thieves, January is often the time you'll find out just how busy they have been. If your identity has been compromised over the busy holidays, your credit reports may be the easiest way to detect a breach. A product like Identity Guard® can give you access to all three of your credit reports, from Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® and provides quarterly updates so you’ll stay aware of your current credit standing.
- Check your statements. You should also check your first statements after the holidays very carefully. This not only helps you determine if there are any unauthorized charges on your credit cards, or withdrawals from your bank account, it's also a great way to make sure you weren't overcharged for anything over the busy buying time.
- Change your passwords. January is the best time to adopt new password habits, and to change old passwords. At the very least you should pick the Top 5 most important passwords you use - especially bank and credit card accounts, internet access, and email - and change them all to something new, long, and random.
- Create a list of security rules and goals. This is where your security planning really kicks in. The easiest way to start is to create a list of the dozen most important security rules you want to follow — like changing your passwords often, checking your credit reports regularly, scanning your computers, and checking your statements. Then place it on your fridge or near your computer as a constant reminder.