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Safeguarding Your Identity

There are few things we cherish more than our identity. After all, it defines who we are, provides a framework for the lives we have fashioned for ourselves, and intrinsically bestows an aura of protection. In fact, we often feel a sense of security when we reflect upon the identity we have built for ourselves. Yet, when that identity is violated, feelings of safety and protection can come crashing down.

 

What is Identify Theft?

It is typically a scheme to abscond with another individual’s personal information, usually to gain access to the victim’s money, credit, or good standing. In short, it’s thievery. And, with the widespread use of the Internet, it has become considerably more common.

So, what can you do to better protect yourself? Here are a couple of thoughts.

 

Regularly change passwords. Since the Internet is a major prowling place for hackers and thieves, it deserves a lot of attention. One way to better circumvent bandits from gaining entryway into your private accounts is by consistently changing the passwords associated with them. Keep in mind that when formulating a word, it should be difficult for criminals to figure out. For example, it is often best to use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers. But you’re afraid you might forget the word? Well, perhaps keep a confidential journal written in code you will understand with the account name and correlating password. Later, when you change the password to further safeguard against hackers, you can white out the old and write down the new. Then, store the journal in a secret yet easily retrievable location.

 

Do not divulge personal data over the phone. Sometimes people call from supposedly trusted locations and request personal details to help them carry out duties like processing a charge, determining insurance coverage, or accessing confidential medical records. However, be warned, unless you are absolutely certain the person on the other end of the phone line is a legitimate worker with honorable intentions, it is not a good idea to give out social security numbers and other private data in this manner. Even when you are paying bills in person and know the situation is genuine, it makes sense to speak softly so surrounding people do not hear. If you tend to write down personal facts on paper as opposed to verbally communicating them, be sure the paper is returned to you so you can rip it in to tiny pieces after the documentation has been made. Sadly, there are unscrupulous individuals on the periphery and even inside organizations ready to steal confidential information for dishonorable purposes. The key is to make their shameful objectives as difficult as possible to achieve.

Safeguarding who we are has become more challenging in the 21st century. And, when we read that even multibillion-dollar corporations are vulnerable to security breaches, the whole notion of staying protected can seem downright daunting.

 

The Worcester Bar Association will be giving a talk titled How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Scams & Identity Theft on April 27, from 10:30 to 11:30, at the Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street. To learn more about this event, call 508-799-1232.

For additional protection ideas, go to http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/protecting-your-identity