It’s that time of year for New Year’s resolutions and always a good time to take stock of how mindful you are of protecting one of your most valuable assets—your identity. Javelin Strategy & Research reported that about 12.6 million people were victims of identity theft in 2012, an increase of more than one million from the previous year. One likely reason: a spike in Web site data breaches. LinkedIn, Sony and Zappos are among the high-profile businesses attacked in recent years. Javelin found that nearly one in four people who were notified that their data had been compromised in a breach became victims of identity theft last year. The fix: Create a variety of passwords so that a thief won’t be able to use a password stolen from one site to enter another. Passwords for your e-mail and financial accounts, in particular, should be unique. Create longer passwords that contain a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Resolve to review your credit reports quarterly this year and each bank and credit card statement you receive for unauthorized transactions. Bills from medical providers for services you never received could mean someone is posing as you to get treatment. Make a habit of shredding documents that contain sensitive information.
Resolve to be more protective of your phone number and birthday—avoid the temptation of sharing too much information on social media. It’s not just your “friends” who are monitoring your posts!
Resolve to keep your security software up to date and get notices from your bank and credit card companies for suspicious transactions.
For more on identity theft best practices, please visit www.hvshred.com