This post is sponsored by LifeLock
We are constantly bombarded with messages that we should take care with our identity when shopping and working online. Considering how much we do online these days…shopping, travel, banking, education, work, etc…..it’s something we shouldn’t take lightly. But if you’re like I was a few months ago, you hear the warnings and think “Well, that won’t happen to ME!”
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I’m writing this post as a cautionary tale to all of you. It CAN happen to YOU. A few months ago someone from the Phillipines, using a host of aliases, began plucking at the string that soon had my “secure” identity unraveling at the seam. Over the last few months this person has managed to breach almost every account I have online (which is a lot!) and shattered my illusion that my identity is safe online. As a matter of fact, I just received in the mail today the THIRD replacement I’ve had to get of my credit card in the last couple of months.
We all know how inconvenient THAT is. Normally I would have had to go in and manually change the payment information on every account I’ve set up online. But, thankfully, time last time I had some help!
Ironically, I was recently contacted to do a post about a new app from LifeLock, a leader in identity theft prevention, called Identity App. Identity App makes updating personal information across multiple accounts as easy as a simple click, so you won’t lose access to any of the services you depend on. I can’t tell you how much easier this was than having to go to each and every account individually and update my payment information.
Even if you haven’t had your identity threatened, there are many circumstances which require you to change or update our information online. Whether it’s your email address, physical address, credit card info, etc…with Identity App it can all be updated with literally a click!
- Other key features of the app include:
* A centralized dashboard for all of your services and accounts – from Apple to Amazon to your frequent flyer cards. Track and update all of your services from one place.
* Stores your information on your phone, not in the cloud or on a remote server, so your information is less vulnerable.
Hopefully none of you will have to EVER go through what I’ve gone through, but if you do, now there is an easier way to deal with the aftermath…thanks to Identity App.
Here are some tips I strongly recommend (based on personal experience) to
KEEP YOUR INFORMATION SECURE:
- Lock up your stuff. Keep your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from roommates or workers who come into your home.
- Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.
- Question before you share. Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child’s school, or a doctor’s office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
- Shred, shred, shred. Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.
- Protect RX’s. Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out. Don’t share your health plan information with anyone who offers free health services or products.
- Safeguard your “snail mail.” Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail. When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.
- Opt Out. Consider opting out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance by mail. To opt out, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to optoutprescreen.com.
- Stranger danger. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with.
- Wipe old computers clean. Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
- Erase old cell phones. Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently.
- Keep your browsing secure. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
- Use strong passwords. For all your devices and all your online accounts. Check out this post: Creating Foolproof Passwords
- Don’t overshare on social media. If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information.
- Practice safe clicking. Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.
- Beware public wireless. Don’t send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place.
- Keep financials off your devices. Keep financial information on your laptop (or other devices) only when necessary. Don’t use an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password, and always log off when you’re finished.
Having my identity compromised has been one of the most stressful things to ever happen to me. Take it from me….protect yours any way you can.