Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Here we are again, getting ready to face a new year. Time to set those dreaded New Year’s resolutions. You know, lose the 10 pounds, give up the chocolate, quit smoking, and win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Along with the breaking of some bad habits, now is the time to take on some new habits to protect you against identity theft. The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) offers the following top resolutions you can make in 2010:
Lock up your social security card! Get it out of your wallet! Put this valuable card, along with all other important personal documents, in a safe, locked box or safety deposit box.
Don’t share your Social Security Number (SSN) unnecessarily. Ask questions: Why do you need it? What happens if I don’t give it to you? Who gets to see it? What are you going to do with it? Legitimate reasons to provide your SSN are limited including: verifying identity for employment; establishing new lines of credit; government benefit programs; and tax purposes.
Invest in a good cross cut shredder and USE IT! Destroy all documents that include personal identifying information (account numbers, birth date, SSN, medical numbers). This includes those pre-approved credit card offers that fill your mailbox. When in doubt, shred it!
Order your credit reports! Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to obtain your free credit reports. And it’s really free! You are entitled, by federal law, to obtain one free credit report from each Credit Reporting Agency every year. For best results, the ITRC recommends that you stagger your requests to one CRA every four months, through this free program.
Consider investing in a locked mailbox. If you already have a locked community mailbox, just remember, sturdier is better. Additionally, make it a habit to take out-going mail to the post office and stop using your “come steal me” red flag.
Take the time to place passwords on all your accounts and change the old ones. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, money markets, credit cards, etc. Be creative and use something that is not easily guessed by someone who may know you. A good verbal password is NOT the last four digits of your SSN, your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name or kid’s birthdays. A random word, not associated with you or your life, is highly recommended.
Limit the amount of personal information you share online. If you don’t want it publicized – don’t put it online! For online accounts, use strong passwords and change them regularly. (A strong password should be more than 8 characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non alphabetical character. Use of non-dictionary words is also advised.) Do not access accounts on shared or public computers (library, internet cafes, work, etc). For more information on safe social networking, see ITRC Fact Sheet 138 – and Social Networking and Identity Theft.
Be a savvy online shopper! Check out the merchant and make sure they are legit. Protect your information online by using a secure payment agent – a security product which allows a consumer to control the use of their personal identifying information whether shopping, paying bills online, or registering at websites. Consider using credit cards instead of debit cards when making purchases. In addition, install security and malware software to protect your computer and update it frequently.
Monitor any and all account statements carefully. Don’t wait three months to balance your check book or open your mail! React quickly if you notice any discrepancies.
Guard all checks and deposit slips as you would your precious jewelry. In the wrong hands, these account numbers can be even more valuable than handfuls of cash! When making out checks, use specially formulated gel ink pens, developed to defeat check washing.
Additionally I reccomend:
Protect your Social Media Identity Register your full name and those of your spouse and kids on the most trafficked social media sites, blogs, domains or web based email accounts. If your name is already gone, include your middle initial, a period or a hyphen. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to plug in your picture and basic bio, but consider leaving out your age or birthday. You can do this manually or by using a very cost effective service called Knowem.com.
Protect your financial identity. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)
Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing Social Security Numbers on Fox news
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- Criminal Hackers Responsible For Most Data Breaches
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were at least 662 data breaches in 2010, which exposed more than 16 million records. Nearly two-thirds of breaches exposed Social Security numbers, and 26% involved credit or debit card data. The ITRC elaborated, “Other than breaches reported by the media and a few progressive state websites, there
- ID Theft Is Set To Rise On The Heels Of The Recession
Jay McDonald from Creditcards.com does a great job of summarizing Identity Theft Predictions for 2010. “Like wolves to injured prey, identity thieves are out to turn the recession struggles of average Americans to their own advantage. “In my adult life, I’ve never seen more varations of old scams and the degree of sophistication in newer scams,” says
- Washington Man Steals Over 1000 Identities
While we often hear about international criminal hackers compromising databases and stealing credit card information, identity theft is often committed locally, by someone with access to sensitive paperwork. In one such case, a suspected identity thief was recently arrested in Washington, after driver’s licenses, credit cards, and Social Security numbers were stolen from more than a
- 15 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
There at least 99 things to know about how to prevent identity theft. Below is a good starting point. Tips: Watch your bank accounts online and examine your statements frequently. Opt out of preapproved credit cards. Go to https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t to get started. Check your credit for free at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp. You can do this up to three times a year. Dispute
- Robert Siciliano Joins Identity Theft Resource Center Board of Directors
(San Diego, CA: October 1, 2014) The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to the understanding of identity theft and related issues, announced today that Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, will serve on its Board of Directors. Siciliano, with more than 30 years of experience in this field, will bring his vast knowledge
2 Responses to “Resolve to Dissolve Identity Theft”
Thanks Robert. All pretty straightforward tips here. It’s a good reminder to go change my passwords though. I was wondering if you know why every doctor’s office in the US now wants a social security number when you fill out their paperwork. I’ve declined giving mine, and only been hassled about it once or twice. But it seems like more of a problem for the doctor’s office than a help – it just opens them up to more lawsuits should there be a breach. Any idea why they request it?
“Invest in a good cross cut shredder and USE IT! Destroy all documents that include personal identifying information (account numbers, birth date, SSN, medical numbers). This includes those pre-approved credit card offers that fill your mailbox. When in doubt, shred it!”
Seriously. People need to shred anything that includes identifiable information. It’s amazing how many people think that as soon as paper enters a garbage can it is safe. Nice article!
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