Five Moves That Invite Identity Theft
By now, most people know that identity theft protection, constant monitoring, careful disposal of credit card statements and other sensitive data, and other proactive measures are the best ways to prevent the nightmare of identity theft. However, people are also prone to becoming complacent about identity theft prevention over time, and identity thieves count on complacency to provide easy access to personal information. We're all guilty of it to some extent, and we know that no matter how careful we are, we can't be vigilant 24/7. That's why so many of us seek identity theft protection to provide extra security and to monitor and safeguard our information around the clock.
Nevertheless, it's very important to remember that identity theft protection services can't protect us if we're careless with our personal information. Ultimately, it's the responsibility of each of us to protect ourselves from identity theft, and being aware of common mistakes that invite thieves to steal is a good start.
With that in mind, here are five moves that invite identity theft:
1. Not having a firewall to protect your home computer
Sophisticated thieves write software that constantly probes for weak spots on home and business computer networks. These programs are capable of performing millions of probes every hour, around the clock. Failing to install a firewall on your home network is asking for trouble.
2. Poor password practices
Many people create passwords that are easy to remember and then use one or two of them in many different places. However, if a password is easy to remember, it's probably also easy for a thief to guess. Use a different password for each account or login, and change them regularly. In addition, make your passwords strong by using a mix of capital letters and alphanumeric characters. Passwords such as "*G51m)|@mes" are impossible to guess, but middle names, birthdays, and other popular passwords are very easy for others to learn.
3. Sharing your personal information online
You should treat your personal information like cash. Thieves love social networking sites because so many people share their names, addresses, and other personal information, making it easy for them to steal identities.
4. Not having antivirus software installed on your computer
Not having antivirus protection on your computer is like leaving your bank account and credit card information in a public place for anyone to see and steal. Never open email from people you don't know, never click on pop-up ads, never provide credit card information on an unsecure computer, and never leave your computer unprotected by a firewall and antivirus software.
5. Not monitoring your money or your credit
Identity thieves love it when their victims fail to check their account balances and credit reports. They can go on stealing for months, or at least until the money runs out and delinquent accounts are closed. Again, it's your responsibility to monitor your accounts and credit reports to protect against identity theft.
Even people who proactively take steps to prevent identity theft subscribe to protection services. In the battle against criminals, it makes sense to use every weapon at your disposal.