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Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise. Whether your mail is diverted or stolen, credit cards and credit history are created in your name or damaged, or your name, SSN and personal information are used to create false identities for others, protecting your identity on the Internet or in the terrestrial world should be of concern to everyone.

Electronic Theft

The Internet is a marvelous invention. It helps us shop, pay bills, keep in touch with family and friends, and makes businesses more efficient and profitable.

Unfortunately, it also provides ample opportunities for your identity or important elements of it to be stolen by unscrupulous website owners and hackers. Preventing electronic identity theft begins with knowing how it can be managed.

Your bank account information is available to anyone who knows your user name and password. If you store that information anywhere but your memory, it can be stolen. Computers are hacked or searched by authorized users every day. Wallets and purses are stolen or lost just as often. Drawers, desks, tables and closets are searched as well. No human memory is infallible, but keeping exact information stored anywhere could open your bank account, your cell phone account and even your credit card account or entertainment accounts to anyone who finds or guesses your user information.

Don’t use common password patterns. Birth dates, anniversaries, social security numbers, age combinations, old addresses or zip codes, names or places for your passwords. Instead, use a misspelled version that’s easy to remember. Make security questions based on fact, but don’t use factual answers. For example, if your dog’s name is Rover, you can use the “What is your first pet’s name” security question option, but don’t use “Rover” as your answer. Instead, use a cartoon animal your children like or use “River” as your answer—something that might seem right if viewed but isn’t the exact answer. You see “Rover” written down as a reminder, but you would enter “River” instead.

Vary the characters in your passwords. Characters on a computer are anything that occupies a data space—dashes, commas, periods, numbers, letters, special characters like @ and even the spaces between words and sentences. Most sites don’t allow spaces in passwords, but they do make a difference in security question options. Use a combination of letters, numbers, dashes and special characters when allowed. Use upper-case and lower-case letters, and for maximum security, don’t repeat letters in passwords either.

Don’t share passwords and user names with others, even if trusted friends. Unfortunately, not all friendships last forever or end amicably. If you truly need to temporarily share your password, change it as quickly as possible.

When you access an online account in public, lower your screen’s angle to where only you can barely read it, and never step away from your computer or tablet while logged in on a site. Security questions and passwords can be changed in only a few moments, and you can be locked out of your accounts. Also, always log out of a site then close the window or tab. Don’t just open another website on that tab or window.

Monitor Account Changes and Credit History

US law provides the option of one free credit report per year: Use it. Request a credit report annually without cost, and a $10 investment at the six-month point is well worth the minor expense. Keep tabs of information on your credit report, for those are often the first place you might find evidence of identity theft.

If there are loans or credit cards for which you did not apply that show on your report, contact each reporting agency with a dispute. Contact each creditor with the same dispute and request copies of all application paperwork and signatures. Notify each query organization since the initiation dates that such-and-such entries are not yours and under investigation for identity theft.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it won’t happen to you. Unfortunately, too many people have and will discover that it can.

The author of this article is Holly Miller, a writer for CouponCroc.co.uk. Shop safely and securely online and save when you use discount codes and vouchers on all of your purchases.

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We would like to thank our guest writers on the Online Security Authority Blog! We feel it’s a honor and pleasure, to have others participate and contribute to the great content, advice and opinions on and in this Online World, we all live in… help us, help them, by supporting and visiting their sites!

as always, be safe Online

Your Online Security Authority

Bill Wardell

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