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Ways to Protect Your Personal Data

Every year, we find more reasons to know how to prevent identity theft. According to the Department of Justice, 17.6 million US residents experienced identity theft in 2014. That is amazing growth from the 12.6 million identity theft cases reported in 2012.

Further identity theft reporting from San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center reveals that on average it takes more than 600 hours to restore one's proper identity after an innocent individual has been compromised and violated.

Given that most identity theft is based upon lax computer security and poor personal security discipline, the tips below can help reduce your risk of identity theft and the ensuing damage and inconvenience this crime imposes on its victims.

Password Management

Good password management can reduce or eliminate the risk of identity theft. Remember that, if there is any doubt about the source, individuals should never reveal personal information, including passwords, either verbally or online.

• Increase your security by using different passwords for different accounts. Mixing your passwords may be inconvenient but not as inconvenient as having to repair identity theft damage.

• Do not use passwords based on personal data such as birth dates or social security numbers.

• Use passwords that incorporate numbers and both upper and lower case letters intermixed.

• Do not store your passwords on your computer but rather in a hard copy file or CD.

Increase Your Computer Security

Hacking makes the front pages every day. Chances are that hacking has occurred on computers programs that have more sophisticated software security and security protocols than your personal computer possesses.

To prevent your personal identity from being compromised, increase the protection around your personal computer. Make sure your firewall is updated regularly, that your anti-virus program is updated and checked regularly. And, be sure to take every warning seriously.

Protect Your Personal Information

Identity theft can happen at any time through any number of portals, even when you think you are harmlessly disposing of your computer. Remember that professional hackers have access to sophisticated spyware and other programs designed to infiltrate your computer.

Be sure to wipe your old computer clean of account information and personal data before disposing of the same. The best choice is to restore the computer to factory settings before junking it. There are a number of free scrubbing programs that can be downloaded from the Internet.

Shopping Online: Be Careful

One of the most common mistakes is to input and save personal information on a store’s website. By doing so, you are entrusting the provider to protect your personal information. As we have seen, Internet security at many online and brick and mortar stores has been compromised.

If you are inclined to store your information, you can reduce your risk by keeping a separate card for online purchases. Of course, performing proper due diligence before purchasing anything is still necessary.

Watch Out For Phishing Programs

Responding to those seemingly harmless e-mails and solicitations can produce surprising results. Very often these phishing procedures include requests to verify information the guilty party does not possess. Regard anyone seeking information verification online with suspicion and regard the solicitation as an attempt to compromise your identity. Call the source!

The most common phishing requests come from entities pretending to be banks or from false lotteries. Never release personal account information without contacting the account holder directly.

Be prudent, diligent and consistent while protecting information that could compromise your security.