Identity Theft

Identity theft has become a sprawling problem for those of us well connected to the information age. Recent security breaches in Target and Neiman Marcus has brought the problem into our forefront shattering expectations that this is a concern only for those that choose to purchase and handle their business online. Attacking a couple of the world’s leading retailers is a bold step for those thought to dwell only near the checkout tab at unreliable online retailers. The unexpected nature, coupled with the tactical timing made for a front page world-news worthy story. Individuals were urged to be proactive about changing their account information and to contact their banks in order to monitor their bank accounts. We ask ourselves, is this enough?

Here at IntegriShield we value individual privacy and right of those individuals to protect their property. Here are some tips to help us all navigate through the tech jungle:

– Know where you shop, become aware of the store’s privacy policy and whether they sell your information to third party companies. This is especially true for companies that entice you with coupon offers only once you submit more information.
– READ privacy policies. They are there for a reason, I know we are all blissfully happy with the belief that they all “basically” say the same thing but if you are required to agree to their privacy terms before purchasing, then most likely they are worth looking into.
– Make sure that the back of your cards read PLEASE SEE ID. This ensures that the person taking your card verifies your identity. You will be surprised at how often this practice gets overlooked even as more companies make it a requirement.
– Know your rights. Discuss identity theft protection with your bank; make sure that you understand their policies and what services you pay in order to stay protected.
– Make it a habit to look through your bank statements, if in doubt flag it and ask questions. It is also a good idea to round most of your purchases to the nearest whole amount, this makes most unusual purchases stand out.
– Be cautious of all information you post online, whether it is professional or personal. This information exists in a data pool that is easily accessible to those prowling for information in order to use it for financial gain.
– Lastly, don’t make it easy for anyone trying to steal your information. Make passwords and PINS that are simple to recollect but hard for others to crack. If it is something that someone can guess after getting to know you then it is not safe as a password. How long you have had a password is also important. The best way to protect yourself is to become an enigma and make it hard for others to guess your next move.

We have to come to peace with the fact that as our world dives deeper into the information age it will become harder to protect your information from those that are determined to get it. As a society we have to become more diligent about protecting our privacy and our right to exercise it. If you would like some more information about protecting your identity visit the Consumer Information page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

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