How to protect my identity

Tips on how to protect your identity

Here are some tips to protect your identity offline and online. The basic idea is to make you less of an easy target and limit the opportunity for others to get your personal and financial information.

The "protect your identity tips" below are all important and are in no particular order.

Limit the amount of debit cards, credit cards, charge cards, and merchant cards you have. The more cards you have, the more cards can be stolen, and the more cards you have to keep track of.

Pay with cash:
We live in a society of plastic, but do you really need to pay with a credit card when you buy a cup of coffee? Most vendors take credit cards these days, but that does not mean it is safe. Do not pay with a card at restaurants, bars, or other places where the card is out of your sight. Even if it is within your sight, think twice about it. Is this establishment or business safe? For example, do you know what the plumber does with your information? Is it just left in his truck on his next call? Recently, we have even seen large corporations not being able to keep your information safe.

Keep wallet and purse clean:
Don't make your wallet or purse a treasure chest if it gets lost or stolen. Only keep what you need with you. Clean out old cards, stuff you don't use, and receipts and other personal information.

Keep mailbox safe and limit its use:
Make sure that your mailbox outside your home has a lock. Take all outgoing mail to the post office. Even with a lock, limit the amount of mail you get. Most companies now offer online invoices and statements. There is a lot of distance between you and the people you do business with. Mail can be intercepted many places along the way. In other words, limit the use of the postal service for exchanging personal information. You can further limit the financial offers you get by limiting who can check your credit score. Go here to stop businesses from checking your score.

Shred everything you don't need to keep:
Do not put anything with personal information on it into the trash or recycle bin. This is probably one you know. It is obvious, but we mention it anyway to make sure you remember.

Monitor everything:
Make sure to keep track of all your charges, deposits, and withdrawals. Furthermore, make sure that you have received all invoices and that all checks have been cashed by the correct company. You should also check your credit with the three credit bureaus on a regular basis to make sure the information is correct. You can check it for free once a year here.

Keep computer safe:
Make sure that your computer has an updated operating system, updated virus protection, and that the firewall is turned on. Furthermore, make sure that your computer is password protected. Before discarding an old computer, the hard drive should be professionally cleaned. Simply deleting the data will not be sufficient.

Keep smartphone safe:
Your smartphone contains a lot of information. It could provide a wealth of information if it gets into the wrong hands. Make sure it has a strong password and a kill switch, so you can delete its information remotely. Furthermore, your smartphone is like a computer, and you should also make sure it is updated regularly to close any security holes.

Keep tablet or laptop safe:
Use the same tips and caution that we noted with the computer and smartphone above.

Turn off bluetooth and wireless:
Turn off bluetooth on your phone and other mobile devices when you don't use them. Also, turn off wireless when you are out and about. There are wireless hotspots that are made to get your information. Don't connect to wireless hotspots that you do not know are safe. A compromised wireless connection may allow someone to intercept all of your information.

Keep strong wireless password:
Make sure you have a strong wireless password and encryption on your home network. You do not want someone on the outside to be able to connect to your network and possibly your computer.

Use different passwords:
Do not use the same password for everything. Use different passwords so you are more protected if one site is compromised. Of course, all your passwords should be strong including all the different kinds of characters and symbols. Memorize all of your passwords. NEVER write down a password on a file on your computer or anywhere else.

Careful computing:
Be very careful with social media. People may not be who they say they are. Before you download software for your computer or an app for your smartphone, make sure that it is legitimate. Read reviews from multiple sources and double check where the software or app is coming from. Be careful about opening email attachments. Did it really come from your friend? Did they send it intentionally? When surfing, only go to reputable sites like Amazon and Research Maniacs.

Don't give information to people who ask for it:
If someone calls you, emails you, or you get a notice on your computer screen, NEVER NEVER give them any personal information. It does not matter if they say they are from the bank you use, the credit card company you use, the computer manufacturer you use, or anything else. Delete, hang-up, or whatever, and use your contact information to call who they claimed to be to see if it was a scam or not. Don't call the number they offer.

Use common sense, simplify, monitor, and stay on top of security. Remember, a lot of personal information is collected by the wrong people, because victims simply give it to them or make it easily available.

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The page above was created by Research Maniacs and may not be copied or reproduced. The goal of the article is to give free advice and tips to protect your identity. We answer questions like: How to protect my identity online? and How to protect my identity offline?

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