5 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft or a Security Breach

Posted by Ray Barry

Over 17 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. Every day, you hear about some high-profile corporation having security breaches or a scenario that could lead to an identity theft nightmare. If major department stores, large corporations, political parties and even the USPS can be hacked, you can be hacked too. Protect yourself and protect your business from identity theft by taking certain actions to protect your personal information or to protect company data from identity thieves.

1. Protect Your Personal Information

Keep your social security number a secret! This means do not carry your social security card with you. Do not leave it in your home unless it’s in a safe. And, do not give your social security number to anyone unless that person or company has a legitimate need for it. When you use the ATM or your debit card always check your surroundings. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you enter your pin number. And, be aware of ATM machines and gas pumps that may have been tampered with.

Some examples of identity theft include someone applying for credit in your name, stealing your information, including blank checks or your debit card information for the purpose of stealing your money by emptying your bank account or by using your card information to make a fake card.

2. Be Vigilant Against Tricks

Scammers are always thinking of new ways to get your personal information or ways to get you to send them money. If someone calls or emails you out of the blue asking for personal information, don’t give it to that person. If you are not sure that a call or email is valid, always call the institution from a number you know is correct or visit the institution in person. As for emails, do not click on the links in emails. Go directly to the website by typing the URL into the address box in your internet browser. Scammers will put URLs that look like the correct one in the email, but in fact, it will take you to a fake site that may look just like the real site.

Additionally, help prevent data breaches at work by keeping confidential information where it belongs. Never leave confidential files out on your desk. Put documents and files that need to be shredded into a locked shred box. And, keep files locked up and out of sight.

3. Protect Your Digital World

Take several steps to protect digital information and accounts. Create strong passwords. Make sure you use different passwords for everything you do online. If one place gets hacked, the thief will try that password for other places since many people do use the same passwords for everything. Make sure your password file is encrypted and that file has a strong password. Consider using password management programs. This is especially important at work. Not only is your information at risk, but your employer’s clients’ information is at risk. Protecting digital account and information is part of how to prevent business identity theft.

4. Protect Communications

Keeping your computer’s security software updated is part of preventing identity theft. If a computer is not under your control, such as those found in libraries or your computer on a public Wi-Fi connection, do not visit sensitive sites such as your bank. At home or at work, Wi-Fi should have a strong password and should have WPA2 encryption.

5. Protect Your Documents

The best way to protect your identity is to protect your documents. Dumpster diving is the easiest way for identity thieves to get information. Even something with your address on it could be the missing piece of information a thief needs. Even leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox for pickup isn’t safe anymore. Shredding documents is the only way to significantly minimize identity theft. With the right shred partner, you can choose a shredding service that provides mobile shredding for onsite document destruction and locked shred boxes.

Contact Carolina Shred

You may be asking yourself, “Why should a business be concerned with preventing identity theft?” Not only could a thief get your information from your place of business, but she or he could get your customers’ information. This leaves it open for a lawsuit against you. If you are found to not have taken precautions against identity theft, you could be held liable for any inconveniences and costs the identity theft may have cost your customers. Contact Carolina Shred to discuss our mobile onsite shredding services.