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Prevent Identity Theft

1. Use Caution When Entering Information Online – When providing personal or financial information online, be certain that you have a secure connection. The URL in the address bar should change from “http” to “https” or “shttp.”

Look on the bottom right of your browser window and you should see a closed padlock symbol. This lock icon also often indicates that the connection is secure.

If you want to make your own website secure in this way, you may want to look into purchasing an SSL certificate. Your hosting company can handle this for you and the charge is normally $49 and up per domain.

2. Create Strong Passwords – We realize that generating strong passwords, not to mention keeping track of them all, can be a hassle, but it’s critical that you have strong passwords for every site you use.

You may also want to check out pwdhash.com. When you visit a site that requires you to create a password, enter a simple password you’ll remember, but before you submit it, run the PwdHash browser extension (Firefox or Chrome), and it will invisibly generate a custom, strong password for that site. In the end, you only need to remember one password, which your browser is able to securely transform into a different, strong password for each site you use.

3. Use Discretion When Sharing Information – Use discretion when updating social media websites. Even if you limit the number of people who have access to your profile, tweets, etc., keep in mind that the information is still published online and can be copied and pasted elsewhere. If anyone asks you for personal information, make sure they are who they claim to be and that there is a legitimate reason for the request.

4. Stop Unsolicited, “Pre-Approved” Credit Offers – Opt out of pre-screened credit/insurance offers to prevent potential thieves from intercepting and accepting the offers in your name. Opting out doesn’t affect your eligibility for credit or insurance; visit OptOutPrescreen.com for more information.

You should also limit the amount of unsolicited emails you receive by customizing your spam filter settings.

5. Shred Confidential Information – When disposing of papers with account numbers or other identifying information, shred them. This includes convenience checks that come with your credit card statement, as well as unsolicited credit card offers.

6. Remain Vigilant: Review Your Accounts Regularly – Monitor your accounts online frequently, so you can discover potential issues without having to wait for bills or statements to come by mail. You also may want to check out MyIDScore.com; it’s a free service that reviews how likely it is your identity is being misused and provides ways you can reduce that risk.

7. Protect Yourself Against Spyware – Spyware is malware downloaded to your computer or website, without your knowledge or consent, that runs in the background and collects information about you:

Make sure whatever anti-virus program you’re running on your personal computers includes spyware protection, as well. Antivirus programs like Norton and McAfee offer Internet protection as well as standard viral protection. If unfamiliar with the products visit an office supply or electronics store and speak with a salesperson or contact the company and talk with a customer service representative.

Some companies, such as Lavasoft or STOPzilla, will offer a basic anti-spyware service for free, while charging for advanced protection. In our opinion, its always best to purchase a copy of an antivirus software and load it on the computer your use. These packages will also include the availability to load it on 2 more machines within your home or office. Please check with the vendor for certainty.

8. Enroll All Your Domains in Domain Privacy – If you own domain names its best to make them “private” by enrolling in a domain privacy program. Charges can go from 99 cents to $10 per year per domain. “Domain privacy” may actually be a misnomer; it’s not the domain itself that’s in need of protection; it’s your personal information that’s publicly available whenever someone does a “whois” lookup online.

Harvesting “whois” information is an easy way for identity thieves to impersonate you. We’ve temporarily enrolled one or more of your domains in our privacy service for free, but that free trial will expire in a few weeks. We encourage you to upgrade all your domains to be permanently enrolled in domain privacy.

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