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Watch Out Behind You: Preventing Identify Theft

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March 20, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission says millions of Americans have their personal identities stolen each year and that as many as 9 million are victimized in the U.S. alone annually. Though there is still no 100 percent fail-safe solution to this growing problem, there are a lot of easy things you can do to greatly reduce the chances of this ever happening to you.

Here’s a short list of easy, must-do steps you can take to maximize your level of protection online:

  • Create only complex passwords that represent the highest high level of security possible by using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters.
  • Change your passwords on all of your online accounts on a regular basis. Never write them down on paper or anywhere else where they could potentially be abused.
  • Avoid giving out your passwords to others, especially to strangers who may call you seeking to “confirm” your secret information. It is also wise to not give out your passwords to family and friends, unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Never save personal information on public computers or onto unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks that you don’t have complete control over.
  • Exercise extreme caution, especially when using mobile devices, and never log on to suspicious networks that could end up being phoney Wi-Fi providers.
  • Don’t ever click on links in seemingly innocent emails you receive that are unsolicited. These could be illegal attempts to gain access to not only your personal information but to your email address, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and/or other social media accounts.
  • Remove your name from mailing lists used to generate pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visiting OptOutPresrceen. Note: You will be asked for your Social Security number to file your request.
  • Contact the private, nonprofit advocacy group National Consumers League. The mission of this organization is to give consumers like you the information to avoid becoming victims of telemarketing and Internet fraud and to help get complaints to law enforcement agencies efficiently.

What other ways can you think of to minimize the chances of cyber identity theft? You’re invited to share your ideas as a comment below this post.

Next Week’s Post: Three Things to Do if You Become a Victim of Cyber Identity Theft

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