Below are a number of general best practices for everyday life which everyone needs to be aware of. Further into our web site we have specific Best Practices concerning various areas of our lives. The items below should serve as a starting point. While many of these are common sense type items, if not followed creates easy targets for loss of data which leads to Identity Theft.
Always remember if someone has your cell phone number and it is active, it probably has value to some identity thief or scammer. Of particular interest is the recently created practice of Smishing and Vishing. Smishing is a form of fraud that uses text messages as the 'bait' which is designed to get victims to send personally identifying information. Vishing is a form of fraud that uses voicemail to obtain personally identifying information in an attempt to illegally achieve financial gain.
With the ever growing popularity of social media sites, below are items to be considered for both the novice and the experienced individual while posting information on these sites. Remember once it is posted, it resides on the internet forever. The information can be mined and stored by any number of individual or entities that may not have your best interests in mind when they decide to use your information. The effects can be devastating to you both personally and professionally.
Be aware of social media scams
Here are several of the more popular ones
Below are a number of safeguards for the average user for online use. We strongly suggest that you have new users review these items as they learn how to use the internet. We also believe that the seasoned user can learn or be reminded of some simple, but often forgotten practices.
Seniors are easy and likely targets for Identity Theft. For the purposes of these guidelines we are generally talking about those individuals at retirement age. In cases where the individual has diminished mental and/or physical capacity, please also refer to seniors in assisted living environments. The following are practices to follow to help prevent Identity Theft and the negative effects it can have on the victim and the victim's family.
Seniors or disabled individuals living in an assisted living environment are easy and likely targets for Identity Theft. These living environments include but are not limited to assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, hospitals or where in home care providers are used. In cases where the individual has diminished mental and/or physical capacity these practices are vitally important, no matter how reputable the facility or service providers are. The following are practices to follow to help prevent Identity Theft and the negative effects it can have on the victim and the victim's family. In many cases the victims' families are charged with cleaning up the mess both during the victim's life and after their demise.
It is essential for passwords to be kept both secure and confidential. Remember words used in social media sites (i.e. your pet's name) can be discovered and used to steal your personal information.
Best Practices - Behaviors
Password DO NOT's
Again social media sites are great sources of information about you, so DO NOT use any personal information for your password or subsequent security questions.
A 6 character alpha/numeric password attacked by hacking software can be broken in a few seconds. A 9 character alpha/numeric password, with upper/lower case, numbers & symbols could take months to break. Use our Complex Password Tester to insure you're using a strong password.
DO Create a Complex Password
For purposes of the document, we are using the age group of infant through 19 years of age. As always these practices do apply to other groups. We have targeted this group as it is the largest group being targeted by identity thieves. The reason being that they are easy targets because the crime can go undetected for years and they have clean history in terms of credit and employment. According to a news brief on NBC Chicago's today show on May 3, 2012, children are the fastest growing group targeted and kids under 5 years of age are the fastest growing age group within the category. The FTC has confirmed this group is in danger. Approximately 8% of all I D Theft involves this age group according to the FTC. We believe this to be conservative because very few parents monitor their children's identity during the early years.
While preparing for a trip of any kind either within the country or leaving the country, the following practices need to be followed. Identity thieves find travelers easy targets. Many of these practices will also improve the general security of your home and/or property in your absence.
The college experience introduces new social interactions and personal responsibilities. These have an extreme impact whether the student is attending a local institution and living at home, or living on campus and living outside the home for the first time. Many of the new responsibilities are not necessarily obvious. Given that thought, the damage done as a result of Identity Theft can impact you for the rest of your life. It can impact your ability to get employment, get credit, finance a place to live, purchase a vehicle, finance your education, etc. Identity Theft by definition is the loss and illegal use of someone's personal identifiable information.
Given this new experience, we recognize that you will be sharing more information with new friends and classmates. It is important to do this in a responsible manner and understand the risks.
Here is a list of commonly included personal identifiable information. Your name (including maiden name & parents' names), social security number, driver's license number, student ID number, date of birth, birth certificate, address, medical ID cards & numbers, passport, phone numbers, email address, bank account & numbers, student transcripts, phone and or computer user names or passwords, other account numbers i.e. credit/debit cards, photo's, etc.
The list below coupled with other sections of our best practices (specifically youth, social media, cell phone, and online) will help protect your Identity and your Reputation.
'Tis the season to be jolly, but not stupid and foolish. Identity Thieves love the Holidays! Don't let your guard down, even at trusted social gatherings. Ignore the comments from family, friends and co-workers that, "people here would never steal from you." I have heard those types of stories countless times over the years, from the people who became VICTIMS. - Ed Haag, CITRMS*
Holiday social events
The following are general practices that should be followed. The FTC estimates that half of all identity theft originates in the workplace. Remember your employer has considerable personal information about you and helping to secure it is a team effort and affects everyone.
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