It boggles my mind just how many people are not careful with their identities online and offline.
I am talking about things like…
- Using ONE password for ALL of your accounts = Heart attack!
- Having ONE email address for everything (and then not securing it)
- Giving out credit numbers and financial info to anyone who asks for it
- Not bothering to shred anything with your name and address on it
- Writing their bank PIN number .. ON THEIR BANK CARDS
You may think I’m paranoid (heck, I probably am), but after reading Frank Abagnale’s Art of the Steal (FANTASTIC BOOK!!!!) … and yes, THAT Frank Abagnale of Catch me if you Can fame, I am convinced I that I am not paranoid enough.
Also, if you are a small business owner, I suggest you run.. don’t walk.. and borrow that book or buy it IMMEDIATELY.
At least, not compared to him, and he was a professional con man and fraudster from the ages of 16 – 21.
So what are some things I do to protect my identity online and off?
- I use a crosscut shredder on everything that has my name or address on it
- I shred all of my receipts where I’ve used my cards, even mundane ones from the grocery store
- I shred all my bank receipts from ATM withdrawals — I never crumple them up and just toss them
- I shred anything that has a credit card offer on it
- I scan all my statements then securely shred them & transfer them to a laptop that never goes on the internet
- I check my credit report (not my score) once a year
- I check every single transaction on my credit cards against my budgeting tool
- I never give out my real birth date and year if I can help it
- I always shield my PIN when I type it in anywhere I go
- I never let my credit card out of my sight when I pay for something
- I never write my PIN or any kind of password anywhere on any card or paper in my wallet
- I don’t recite out my credit card number and expiry date in a public place … ever
- I do not have one password for all my accounts, I actually have 10
- My passwords are symbol, characters and numbers and no, it is not ever the word ‘password‘
- I have four PIN numbers and only one is used for my bank accounts, the rest are for others
- I do not have one email address for all my accounts, I have 20 (depending on its requirement)
- I keep certain questions/answers ONLY for my banking accounts & use others for the non-essentials
- I change my passwords every 6 months and they’re not easy ones
- I do not store any of my credit card numbers online if I can help it
- I do not subscribe to automated bill pay for anything
- I use a virtual private network (VPN) screener called Hide My Ass! to surf the web
- I try my very best not to use my credit card at all to pay for anything online (I use Paypal or disposable credit card numbers)
- I set up verifying emails for my main email addresses just in case it gets hacked, I can still get in
- I never click on phishing or scammy emails (this is harder for seniors who are not used to this)
15 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO AT A VERY MINIMUM TO SECURE YOUR IDENTITY
- Shred every piece of paper with your name, address or info on it (or more!) with a crosscut shredder
- Check your credit REPORT once a year with all three institutions (Experian, Transunion and Fairfax (U.S. only))
- Have more than one password for your banking accounts, email addresses, and then other accounts
- Use more than one email address – keep one and only one JUST for banking
- Change your password at least every 6 months, once a year at the latest
- Do not use an easy password like “password” — this is so stupid I don’t even know what to say
- Do not give out your SIN # or Social Security number to anyone who asks for it — ask them WHY
- Do not write down your SIN # or Social Security number on pieces of paper that are not secure or encrypted
- Do not use your credit card all over the place without keeping track of where you have entered it
- Do not give out your credit card number and info in a public place on a cellphone
- Do not write down your credit card number and info on pieces of paper that are not encrypted or secure
- Do not use your credit card directly online with shady websites — use Paypal for instance or a disposable credit card number (even those are not 100% secure but they’re MORE secure than giving the info directly)
- Always cover the keypad when you type in your PIN
- Never let your credit card out of your sight when you are ready to pay
- Pay attention to who seems to be paying attention to YOU when you’re at an ATM or paying with a card
There’s so much more you have to do, but those are my top 15 ways to make sure you are reasonably safe online.