We each live complex lives. Most of us fill many roles simultaneously: We might be a parent, a patient, a student, a tax payer, an employee, a customer… just to name a few.
No matter what roles we fill, however, we are responsible for managing important resources throughout our lives.
At techSure, we believe that all people are called to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us and we believe that the best way to steward these resources is to responsibly secure them.
Three of the most important resources every person should protect are your identity, your data, and your legacy.
Security means that you have taken proper steps to protect what is important. The concept of security can be daunting, especially when discussing such important resources, but we hope that these tips can help alleviate some of that fear.
In this three-part series we will discuss simple, affordable, and practical ways to secure your identity, data, and legacy.
As income tax season is upon us again, it is appropriate to discuss some practical things each of us can do to protect our identities.
In our complex lives, each of our roles requires us to divulge varying amounts of sensitive information about ourselves, our lives, and our loved ones. When we interact with websites, social media, and email, we are required to prove our identity.
This information is vital to going about our lives, but this information is also very valuable to threat actors.
It would be comforting to trust that each and every party we disclose sensitive information to keeps it safe, but we all know that is simply not the case.
Ultimately, it is our responsibility to protect our own information and secure ourselves against malicious actors.
Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets to ensuring security. As the saying goes: “There are no simple solutions to complex problems. Only complex solutions to complex problems.”
That being said, there are some simple, affordable, and practical steps we can each take to protect our identities.
To avoid identity theft, there are two main categories of action: Preventing and Protecting.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind, especially during tax season:
Prevent & Protect Against Identity Theft
- Physically secure your Social Security number (SSN) and important personal information. Avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or keeping sensitive documents in unsecured places. Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards.
- Don’t share personal information (birth date, Social Security number, or bank account number) simply because someone asks for it. Many services “requiring” SSN for security reasons can use other security questions as a substitute. Be sure to ask clarifying questions before providing sensitive information.
- Prevent malicious actors from stealing important mail by collecting your mail every day. You can place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles, bank statements and credit card reports. Review your reports at least once per year. Compare receipts with account statements and watch for unauthorized transactions. Be certain that they don’t include accounts that you have not opened. You can order a credit report for free from Annualcreditreport.com.
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases. This can easily be done with a password saver app such as KeePass.
- Utilize security features on your mobile phone such as passcode to open the phone. Also avoid keeping overly sensitive information in easily accessible places such as photos of sensitive documents. Do not send sensitive information such as passwords, personal information and SSN over email.
- Public WIFI can be a hotspot for criminals stealing personal information off of laptops and cell phones. Update your sharing and firewall settings when using public WIFI network. Use a virtual private network (VPN), especially in public.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer. Use a login password for your account on your home computer. Using a VPN at home is also a great investment in security.
- Contact your bank and card companies to freeze your credit files if you see suspicious activity on your account or have reason to believe your information has been compromised.
- For information directly from usa.gov about preventing identity theft, visit https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft
There are services such as LifeLock* that sell services to keep an eye on online presence to flag any suspicious activity or unauthorized use of your identity, but these services do not prevent all kinds of identity theft and you must give their company a lot of sensitive information for them to be able to provide their services.
You have to decide for yourself if the services they provide are worth the risk of their databases potentially being compromised.
In the IT space, there is the saying “don’t be evil versus can’t be evil”.
“Don’t be evil” means that a device or person has the ability to be evil or harm you and you have to hope that they will not do so.
The most secure option is a “can’t be evil” approach, meaning that the device or person does not have the ability to be evil or harm you. You can prevent many devices or people from being able to “be evil” by restricting who has access to your sensitive information. To reduce your risk of identity theft, use the “can’t be evil” approach as much as possible.
These simple, affordable and practical tips can be followed to secure your identity more effectively on your own, or you can seek outside help to get started!
At techSure, our mission is to shield our clients from technical complexity so each is solely focused on growing their unique businesses. We would love to discuss how we can help you increase your security around your identity, data, and legacy.
We hope that these tips help you feel more confident in protecting and stewarding your important information and resources!
Contact us today with any questions or to schedule a security check and consultation!
*techSure does not endorse LifeLock