Protecting Your Identity in the Online World

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a great deal of time having some wonderful conversations with School Counselors at the American School Counselor Association Annual Conference. One topic that came up more often than not in conversation was the issue of identity theft.

This is something that everyone should be concerned about as no one is safe.

Back in March as I was getting ready to buy a house, I got a copy of my credit report and discovered that there was something off about it. There was a delinquency reported that was wrong a number of levels. It turns out that the reported delinquency was a scam. Thankfully I was able to get it corrected before it caused serious issues.

ID-100260836Identity theft can make it hard for a person to get a job, an apartment, credit or even utilities. There are very simple steps you can take to protect yourself from this issue.

How can I protect my identity?

At Home:

  • keep financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe, secure place
  • shred any paperwork, bills, etc that contain your personal or medical information
  • collect mail from your mailbox as soon as possible, if you are going out of town, be sure to have the post office hold your mail or have a neighbor collect it for you

Conducting Business

  • Only give your Social Security number if you absolutely have no choice. As the requestor if another form of identification can be used.
  • Never give out your personal information to someone who calls or e-mails you.

Digitally

  • take care in creating passwords. Use numbers and symbols when you can. Change passwords regularly.
  • do not respond to e-mails or other messages take ask for personal or banking information
  • when using a public computer or network, do not conduct any personal business like logging into financial accounts or purchasing things

How will I know if my identity has been stolen?

Read your bills and account statements. Keep an eye out for:

  • purchases not made by you or anyone else that has access to your account
  • suspicious withdrawals
  • a change of address verification that you did not initiate
  • regular bills have stopped arriving

If something seems out of sorts report it immediately.

The best thing to do is regularly check your credit reports. You receive one free report every year from each of the three major reporting bureaus.  Rather than getting all three at once consider one every four months. This will better allow you to see when there are changes and you can appropriately take action.

Have any tips for protecting your identity? Leave them in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Image courtesy of Hyena Reality/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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