In Life

How to secure your identity online and offline

It boggles my mind just how many people are not careful with their identities online and offline.

I am talking about things like…

  1. Using ONE password for ALL of your accounts = Heart attack!
  2. Having ONE email address for everything (and then not securing it)
  3. Giving out credit numbers and financial info to anyone who asks for it
  4. Not bothering to shred anything with your name and address on it
  5. 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?

OFFLINE IDENTITY

  • 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

ONLINE IDENTITY

  • 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

  1. Shred every piece of paper with your name, address or info on it (or more!) with a crosscut shredder
  2. Check your credit REPORT once a year with all three institutions (Experian, Transunion and Fairfax (U.S. only))
  3. Have more than one password for your banking accounts, email addresses, and then other accounts
  4. Use more than one email address – keep one and only one JUST for banking
  5. Change your password at least every 6 months, once a year at the latest
  6. Do not use an easy password like “password” — this is so stupid I don’t even know what to say
  7. Do not give out your SIN # or Social Security number to anyone who asks for it — ask them WHY
  8. Do not write down your SIN # or Social Security number on pieces of paper that are not secure or encrypted
  9. Do not use your credit card all over the place without keeping track of where you have entered it
  10. Do not give out your credit card number and info in a public place on a cellphone
  11. Do not write down your credit card number and info on pieces of paper that are not encrypted or secure
  12. 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)
  13. Always cover the keypad when you type in your PIN
  14. Never let your credit card out of your sight when you are ready to pay
  15. 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.



Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

Previous PostWhen the unexpected happens. The scary side of freelancing.
Next PostHow and what makes me successful

2 Comments

  1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    Preach it, sister! I do all of this and I know people in our lives think I’m a little nuts but whatever – I am NOT putting our identities or financial foundations at risk through carelessness. We shred everything. Did you know that even your baggage tags and boarding passes should be shredded too because they contain personal information about you that you don’t want spread around? I barely like even having my real name searchable on the internet, forget leaving small pieces of personal information around for people to pick up!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Even doctor’s prescriptions, etc. NEVER, EVER. I shred it all or save it in a scrapbook for Baby Bun (his first flight).

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge. Cancel Reply