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Safe rather than sorry: Tips to protect your identity

Guest post by James Sheedy.

Count to 60 – Yep, it just happened…19 Americans’ identities were stolen. By the time you finish reading this article, the count will be up to 40, according to Transunion’s Credit Education. In the past five years, identity theft has risen by 3.3 million people. With increases in online scams and security compromises, it may seems difficult to prevent your identity from being stolen. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

Tip #1: Shred everything.

Believe it or not people still use the old way of “Dumpster Diving” to get your personal information. They drive around the night before trash day, and look through trash – especially in nice neighborhoods. Make sure you shred anything that includes your name, address, Social Security number, or any other identifying information. Also consider putting the trash can out on trash day morning to eliminate people from being able to dumpster dive.

Tip #2: Password Protect Everything.

Email, online banking, your phone, those are just a couple of things you will want to make sure you are using a secure password. Studies have shown that at least 8 characters, and a special character such as a * or # will make it harder for hackers to guess or track your personal information. Most sites have added extra passcodes or dual authentication when logging in from an unrecognized device. While you might hate the extra step, it may be worth the hassle to protect your information.

Tip #3: Check, Check, Check

I found this tip most valuable – Check your bank account at least once a week. You may think you know exactly how much you have and do not need to look at it until you get your monthly statement. But by then it may be too late – You may not be able to file a dispute, and get the money back.

As identity theft increases, we must do everything possible to prevent it from happening to us. You may have your own tip for protecting your identity. I’d love to hear from you.

James is a member of our marketing team and York Tech student. He placed in the Top 15 at the Future Business Leaders of America (or Phi Beta Lambda for colleges) National Competition, for his presentation on how to protect your identity.