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Five ways to avoid identity theft

March 9, 2017

Reduce your risk of identity theft by following these five steps.

  1. Use secure websites. Whenever you need to type personal information or make financial transactions online, make sure you’re using a secure site. Look for websites that begin with an “https” prefix (not just “http”) and/or a lock symbol to help ensure a website has security features.
  2. Don’t click on questionable links. One of the biggest threats to cybersecurity is malware, which damages or disables computers. You can unknowingly download malware by clicking on suspicious links and pop-up advertisements, or by opening suspicious email attachments. There are many types of malware, including viruses, adware, ransomware, and spyware. This malware could infect your computer, spread to other computers, show you unwanted advertisements, lock up your device, and even capture personal information stored on your device. When in doubt, don’t click on links or open attachments that may be suspicious, even if they come from someone you know.
  3. Use hard-to-guess passwords. Establish a complex, unique password for each online account you access. Do not use easy-to-guess passwords, such as your birthdate or name. To create a strong password, consider using a unique combination of upper and lower case letters and random numbers. Include special characters such as an asterisk (*) or ampersand (&).
  4. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Instead, keep your Social Security card and other important documents in a secure place. Also, don’t carry around extra credit cards, debit cards, checks, or other sensitive information that you don’t need for a particular outing.
  5. Shred sensitive documents you no longer need. Before getting rid of documents that contain personal information, such as bank account or medical information, shred the documents so that other people can’t access the information. Don’t simply throw the documents in the trash, where someone else could find them.