This week is Choose Privacy Week. Developed by the American Library Association, it should be a reminder to protect your personal information by making sure your transactions are secure. Managing your personal information is crucial to preventing identity theft. ID theft can happen to anyone, both online and in person. Here are some tips to minimize the misuse of your personal information.
How to Protect Your Personal Information
- Put passwords on all your accounts. Put passwords on each and every one of your accounts, including credit cards, bank accounts, and your phone. Do not use easily accessible information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, or your phone number as your password. Avoid obvious choices, such as a consecutive series of numbers or your local sports team. Make your passwords more complex and varied. Write them down in a notebook for easy access, and do not store them on your computer.
- Safeguard your information. Keep items with personal information in a safe place. Do not put all your ID’s or credit cards together in one purse, backpack, or briefcase. Never carry more than what you actually need when going out. Tear or shred receipts, applications, insurance forms, statements, credit offers, expired credit cards, mailing labels, or any physical copies with identifying information before throwing them out. Safeguarding your information is key to prevent identity theft.
- Order a copy of your credit report. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months upon request. Get your Annual Credit Report online or call toll-free at 1-877-322-8228 to order your free annual report.
- Other tips. When shopping online, use a secure browser to protect the security of your transactions. Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission.