Don’t Be Fooled: Preventing Identity Theft

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We’ll be the first to say that we believe in making the best of bad situations. Last week, Jennifer was at a Starbucks in New York City and her laptop was stolen. She had simply turned her back for less than a minute to grab something at the counter, and her laptop was gone when she returned to her seat. Rather than dwelling in the frustration that ensues when you’re a victim of theft, Jennifer quickly took action. Let’s look at the steps you can take before and after to perform damage control should you find yourself in a similar situation.

  • Password Protect Everything:

    From your computer to your phone to your iPad, if a device has your personal or professional information on it, it should be password protected. The password setting will go into effect when a device is put to sleep or unused for a short period of time. Yes, this means that you will have to spend a few extra seconds each day to gain access to your gadgets, but look at it this way: seconds of annoyance can save you from hours of frustration and thousands of lost dollars. Check your settings as they relate to when you will be prompted for passwords.

  • Don’t Save Your Information:

    Some sites allow you to save your passwords or personal information in order to automatically log in each time you visit the site. As convenient as this feature is, it makes you susceptible to identity theft. If you use your computer or tablet for travel, this is a feature you should opt out of on your device. For optimal security, it’s best to choose to enter your information every time you log in.

  • Clear Your Cache Frequently:

    Just in case you happened to save some of your passwords in the past, clearing your cache once or twice a month will remove these usernames and passwords from your browser’s memory.

  • Keep Your Passwords Fresh:

    It is a best practice to change all of your passwords every three to four months. Make sure to use a unique password for each item (email, Facebook, HootSuite, banking sites, etc.). A great trick is to come up with a phrase you’ll remember and replace the letter “e” with a 3 or an “a” with an @ or an “I” with a 1 or !. The point is, phrases are better than names and birthdays; that is too easy to crack.

  • Move To The Cloud:

    Moving to the cloud won’t prevent your gadgets from being stolen, and you’ll still have to change all of your passwords, but it does make it infinitely easier to bounce back after your device is lost. Since we use cloud based services, Jennifer was back to business as usual the very same night after purchasing a new laptop.

  • Additional Measures:

    Third party applications can be purchased to remotely locate or wipe your computer or cell phone. Keep in mind that having the ability to locate your stolen item is preferable, but the first thing an experienced thief will do is disable it. The best thing you can do is remotely wipe your computer or phone as soon as possible so that your personal information is no longer threatened. Some smartphones even give you the option to automatically delete your data after a number of failed password attempts.

  • Always Be Alert:

    Familiar environments, like Starbucks, can lull you into a false sense of security, leaving us vulnerable to a theft. It’s easy to trust that your personal items will be safe, but you should never let them out of your sight. You should not leave it at all.

We hope you never suffer Jennifer’s fate, but should you heed our warning you’ll contain the damage a bandit can do as much as possible.

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