Once a friend asked me to compile a genealogy of her family. When I presented her with a tree full of birthdays, anniversaries and photographs, she demanded to know where I had obtained all that information. She was stunned when I told her I found most of the information through public access on Facebook.
Now imagine using your daughter’s name, your mother’s maiden name, your anniversary date, or your birthday as your password for your e-mail or credit card. With the current ease of access to data on social media, the risk of identity theft is greater than ever.
Simple Tips to Protect Your Identity
• Do you have more than one e-mail account? Many of us do – one for business, one for personal, one for newsletters, etc. Do you have an e-mail that you use exclusively for financial institutions? This is another protective step – especially if you don’t use your name in any part of the e-mail address.
• A common access to your accounts is to use your e-mail address. With research, made easy by social media, passwords and security questions can be breached. A little used e-mail for financial information will limit access others have. Be sure to monitor the e-mail account.
• A common mistake people make is sharing too much information on social media. Do you have your birthday listed publicly or privately on Facebook? Are you posting pictures while away on vacation, or posting them after you have returned?
• The new credit cards and debit cards have RFID chips. This is to secure more of your account information once the merchant has it in their system. However, your card is vulnerable. Use a secure card sleeve or RFID safe wallet for carrying your card.
• Many know not to carry their social security card in their wallets. However, Medicare uses your social security number as its identifying number on your card. Consider making a copy of the card and blacking out your social security number. Leave your original at home.
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