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June 29, 2019

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More Tips + Tricks

ID Theft: Could it Happen to You?

August 11, 2017

Identity Theft. It’s not something you think too much about until it happens to you.

 

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking is exactly what gets one in high-risk situations for identity theft and, worse, often without even realizing it. We asked two experts in the fields of security and technology some straight-forward questions to gather practical solutions to today’s challenge of guarding one of your most valuable possessions: your identity.

 

 

From the generous guidance of:

 

Raymond Beckham with ART Computer Maintenance and Repair 

and

Bryan Crutcher with Crutcher & Associates Resource Group 

 

1. What is the best way to protect yourself from identity theft?

 

Crutcher stresses that the best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to “take responsibility to learn how to keep your system virus and malware free” meaning, don’t skip virus protection updates and never risk having little to no malware or virus protection software on your computers.

 

Beckham shares that a great way to avoid identity theft is to “Assume an alternate identity, fall off the grid, and keep no money in any bank anywhere.” After this joke was complete and had his moment to laugh with himself, he continued that if you suspect someone may be using your identity then “freeze your credit. Anyone trying to open a new line of credit under your name will be sent through intense security evaluation” and often, that person will be caught as assuming an identity that they don’t possess.”

 

Crutcher includes: “Beware of where you download free products. There are third parties who offer you the same product[s] for free, however, they add/hide attachments to the download and you have no idea what it is. Basically, anytime you download a program, you are turning over the majority of your computer and the unencrypted data on it to the owner of the software you just downloaded.”

 

So be mindful of what you download and if anything seems fishy, do a little research. Often you can Google and find reviews and warnings from others online who have fallen victim to malicious programs.

 

2. What’s a way people fall victim to identity theft that a lot of people don’t think about?

 

Unfortunately, ART Computer calls attention to a button some of us mindlessly push every time we download a new app. We let apps, and possibly their creators, gain access to all the information on our phones when we grant permission in order to use the app to its fullest capacity. Be wary of this.

 

“Guard your social security number and other personal information like it is a child of yours,” says Crutcher, “Don’t fill out anything unless absolutely necessary with your information, guard all information, use a PO box and Google number as much as possible.” He adds, “Online [storage] (like Dropbox) or cloud storage (like iCloud storage) is only as good as its security and is an increasing target for hackers.” He advises, “Encrypt your hard drive and back up drive, if possible.”

 

3. After calling the police, what should be your next step when you find out your identity’s been stolen?

 

Both experts agree that the next steps are to notify your financial institutions as well as the three main credit bureaus, request free monitoring of your credit, and change all your passwords to online banking and web-based accounts.

 

4. Should I not let Google save my login information when I sign into my online accounts?

 

Ogres are like onions and so is security. Crutcher gives the picture of security being this layered idea as well, “There are many layers to the core. Unfortunately, bad guys are always looking and creating new ways to exploit your systems of protection regardless of how good it is today [therefore] the more you have to lose, the better and more diligent you have to be.” He suggests you do this by avoiding weak passwords as well as one-password-for-all password set ups for your household or business.

 

In all, however, Crutcher reiterates, “There is no perfect solution, only personal accountability and due diligence on behalf of the user.”

 

If a password-protected spreadsheet is not comfortable for you, another alternative to Google saving your login information is a program called Roboform as well as other password managers available.

 

5. What’s some good maintenance I can run for my web browsers, computers, and other devices to protect myself from hackers?

    Suggestions of both experts include:

     

    1. C Cleaner 

     

    Run this on your computers with the default settings to clear cache and cookies. Do this without a solid state hard drive.

     

    2. Malwarebytes 

     

    For antivirus protection.

     

    3. File Hippo

     

    To safely download programs that are not found in the Apple store.

    Apple store downloads are extremely safe and have to meet very high standards of security to be a part of the store.

     

    Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to:

     

    Raymond Beckham with ART Computer Maintenance and Repair 

    and

    Bryan Crutcher with Crutcher & Associates Resource Group 

     

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