According to the US Department of Justice, more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. EDUCAUSE research shows that 21 percent of respondents to the annual ECAR student study have had an online account hacked, and 14 percent have had a computer, tablet, or smartphone stolen. Online fraud is an ongoing risk. The following tips can help you prevent identity theft.
Read your credit card, bank, and pay statements carefully each month. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions. Remember also to review recurring bill charges and other important personal account information.
Review your health insurance plan statements and claims. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions.
Shred it! Shred any documents with personal, financial, or medical information before you throw them away.
Take advantage of free annual credit reports. In the US, the three major credit reporting agencies provide a free credit report once a year upon request.
If a request for your personal info doesn’t feel right, do not feel obligated to respond! Legitimate companies won’t ask for personal information such as your social security number, password, or account number in a pop-up ad, e-mail, text, or unsolicited phone call.
Limit the personal information you share on social media. Also, check your privacy settings every time you update an application or operating system (or at least every few months).
Put a password on it. Protect your online accounts and mobile devices with strong, unique passwords or passphrases.
Limit use of public Wi-Fi. Be careful when using free Wi-Fi, which may not be secure. Consider waiting to access online banking information or other sensitive accounts until you are at home.
Secure your devices. Encrypt your hard drive, use a VPN, and ensure that your systems, apps, antivirus software, and plug-ins are up-to-date.
With an increasing amount of sensitive data being stored on mobile devices, the value and mobility of smartphones, tablets, and laptops make them appealing and easy targets. These simple tips will help you be prepared in case your mobile device is lost or stolen or misplaced.
Don’t leave your device alone, even for a minute! If you’re not using it, lock your device in a cabinet or drawer, use a security cable, or take it with you. It’s not enough to simply ask the stranger next to you in a library or coffee shop to watch your laptop for a few minutes.
Differentiate your device. It’s less likely that someone will steal your device and say they thought it belonged to them if your device looks unique. Sometimes these markings make the laptop harder to resell, so they’re less likely to be stolen. Use a permanent marking, engraving, or tamper-resistant commercial asset tracking tag.
Delete sensitive information. Don’t keep any restricted data on your laptop. We recommend searching your computer for restricted data and deleting it. Restricted data includes your Social Security number, credit card numbers, network IDs, passwords, and other personally identifiable information. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget that this information is on your computer!
Back it up. Set a reminder to backup your data on a regular basis! Keep an external copy of important files stored on your laptop in a safe location in case it is lost or stolen. Your photos, papers, research, and other files are irreplaceable, and losing them may be worse than losing your device.
Encrypt information. Protect your personal data with the built-in disc encryption feature included with your computer’s operating system (e.g., BitLocker or FileVault).
Record the serial number. Jot down the serial number of your device and store it in a safe place. This information can be useful for verifying your device if it’s found.
Install software. Install and use tracking and recovery software included with most devices (e.g., the “Find iDevice” feature in iOS) or invest in commercial products like LoJack or Prey. Some software includes remote-wipe capabilities. This feature allows you to log on to an online account and delete all of the information on your laptop. There are both paid and free versions of this type of software, and each provides different levels of features. Search online to find the best combination of cost and functions to meet your needs.
If you have question, please contact the Helpdesk at 432-837-8888.