Protecting your personal data can help mitigate your risk of identity theft. There are four primary ways to do it: know who you are sharing your personal information with; store and discard your personal information securely; ask questions before deciding to share your personal data; and maintain appropriate security measures on your computers and other electronic devices.
Keeping Your Personal Data Secure Offline
Lock your financial papers and documents in a safe place at home, and lock your purse or wallet in a secure place at work. Keep your data secure from roommates or other people who come into your house.
Limit what you bring around with you. When going out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you would need. Leave your Social Security card and documents at home. Make a duplicate copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits on the duplicate. Carry it with you — unless you are going to use your card at the physician’s clinic or office.
According to the CIPP certification training, Before you share information at your child’s school, your workplace, a business, or a doctor’s office, ask first why they need it, how they will store and process it, and the consequences of not sharing.
Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Online
Know who you share your personal information with. Store and discard your personal data securely.
Beware of Impersonators
Make sure you know who is obtaining and accessing your personal or financial information. The CIPP certification training advises not to divulge your personal information on the phone, through the mail or over on a website unless you have initiated the contact or know who you are dealing with. If a company or organization that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for your personal data, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company or organization name into your web browser, visit their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call their customer service number listed on your account document. Ask whether the company actually sent a request.
Safely Discard Personal Information
Before you let go of a computer, get rid of all the personal data it stores. Use a wipe utility software or program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
Before discarding a mobile device, check the owner’s manual, the device manufacturer’s website, or the service provider’s website for information on how to discard information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or SIM card from a mobile device. Delete the phone book, messages sent and received, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, organizer folders, photos, and web search history.
Encrypt Your Data
Keep your browser safe and secure. To guard your online transactions, use an encryption software that scrambles information you send over the web. A “lock” icon found on the status bar of the browser means your information will be safe when it is transmitted. Check for the lock before you access your personal or financial information online.
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