‘Tis the season when our personal information seems to be on the attack more than any other time of year. Here are some ways to help keep your information private.
- Protect your Personal Computer:
- Encrypt your emails when sending personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, and birthdates.
- Use strong, unique passwords and change them frequently.
- Think before you randomly open email attachments.
- Only download and install software from known vendors and trusted websites.
- Protect what you send or receive by paper:
- Drop off checks directly at a mailbox. Set up on-line bill paying.
- Shred paper containing any personal information, using cross-cut versus strip-cut shredder, so the result looks like confetti.
- Be aware of tricks:
- Be wary of fraudulent texts, emails and phone calls pretending to need your information ASAP. They often tell you your account(s) have been compromised.
- Never give personal information over the phone/computer to someone you don’t know.
- Register for a Social Security Account at SSA.gov.
- For those existing Social Security beneficiaries, you know how to use this account update your phone number, address, and direct deposit information.
- For those not yet receiving Social Security:
- There are many benefits to having this account, which workers age 18 and older are eligible to create. You can check your earnings records, and obtain an estimate of your future Social Security payments.
- Most importantly, registering for this account prevents someone else from creating an account in your name, possibly gaining access to your personal information.
- Review your Credit Reports, whether free or you purchase a subscription:
- The ‘Big 3’ companies are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
- Federal law allows you to receive a free credit report every 12 months from each credit company.
- Due to the current pandemic, these companies are offering free weekly credit reports by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
It all sounds simple; you just have to take time to do it.