Following on from this post, we’ve put together these Top Tips on how to protect your identity and personal data so that you reduce the risk of being scammed or ripped off.
Shred any paperwork before throwing it out. You should especially shred anything with your name and address, and any account details on them including credit card receipts. You should even shred junk mail with your name and address on them. Shredders are quite cheap these days, but you could also just soak the paperwork in water until it turns to pulp and you can mash it up.
Don’t give out personal details over the phone to someone who calls you. Don’t give out these details even if you’re expecting the call. Get the persons name and number, why they’re calling, and call them back. Even then, be careful about the information that you give out.
Be discreet. If you have to have sensitive conversations with banks or insurance companies over the phone, especially on a mobile, be careful where you do this, and mind who might be listening in.
Protect your phone, PDA, laptop, MP3 player or USB keys. Basically protect any electronic item that might contain personal information about you, or that may contain your contact information for others. Make sure they’re always password protected. Turn them off when not in your possession and obviously, unless you’re a Bank of Ireland member of staff, be careful where you leave these items – on or off.
Courtesy of Rowan at Fortify Services, be careful where your CV goes to and what information you provide in your CV. Be discerning about where you send your CV, or to which sites you upload it.
Be wary of how sociable you are. Social networking sites can be interesting and fun, but be careful about what information you make available there. Be discerning about which networks you join – anyone in your network can see you’re your details – as “friends” of Bono recently found out. Make sure friend requests that you accept are legitimate – a quick call or separate e-mail will confirm that. Don’t put up date of birth or personal contact details – basically, treat data as carefully on these sites as you would normally.
Look after your stuff. Be careful of your wallet, credit cards, handbags, brief cases and so on. Don’t keep passwords or pin numbers written down anywhere. You need to have your driving licence when you’re driving, but do you need it in your wallet or purse all the time?
Manage your passwords and PINs. If someone found out a single PIN and a single password from you, how many credit cards, online accounts and electronic items would they gain access to immediately. So, don’t keep them the same – vary all passwords used. Granted this is hard to do, but if you have a think about it, you can probably come up with a simple personal way to vary your PINs and passwords but in a way that’s relevant for you to remember easily.
Do a Google search for yourself. Find out what information is available for you online – either that you’ve put up there, or that’s made its way there through some other means. If you’re not happy about what’s out there, follow up to have it removed.
Watch out at ATMs, at cash registers and anywhere else you’re using your PIN. Is there someone watching over your shoulder standing close enough to see the PIN numbers you’re punching in.
Don’t leave things to chance. If you’re moving house, starting changing your address and setting up your An Post redirect service in plenty of time to make sure no post arrives at your house after you’ve moved out.