IL Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Protect Your Data

Protect Your Data (Excerpts taken from AARP The Magazine)


As the data hacking continues at retailers such as Target, Home Depot and others, how do you protect yourself from these breaches?  By adopting new habits in how you do business, monitoring your financial life and safeguarding your electronic devices.  Checking off all the items on the following list doesn't guarantee you won't be a victim.  It does increase the likelihood that if your accounts are hacked, you'll notice this - and be able to shut it down - quickly.  And that's half the battle.  Here's what to do.

Monitor your financial life
Keep an eye on your bank and credit card account activity, as well as your credit report.  Check your bank accounts online almost daily.  Check your credit card statements several times before the end of each billing statement. Using you should request one free credit report every four months from the three major reporting bureaus.

Layer up

In addition to checking your report, you can put a freeze on it in most states even if you haven't been an ID theft victim.  That prevents thieves from applying for credit in your name.  It typically costs $3 to $10 to freeze - and unfreeze - per credit-reporting bureau.  You can also get credit monitoring for free from several sites online.  This is what is called "layered security".

Ditch the snail mail

Neal O'Farrell, executive director of the Identity Theft Council, calls the U.S. postal system "an absolute gift" for identity thieves, who can reach into your mailbox and grab whatever's there.  Subvert them by doing as much banking and bill paying online as possible.  Doing this makes you less vulnerable, not more.

Protect your technology

As you are busier online, you need your devices to be as secure as possible.  Make sure they have the latest antivirus software and the most recent secure browser.  If you insist on doing transactions via Wi-Fi, be certain you've got a secure (i.e., encrypted) connection, which freebies generally don't offer.

Fix poor passwords

Weak passwords are a crook's best friend.  Make yours long and complex, and change them often - not just on your bank account but on your email and social media, too.

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