We are living in such an exciting time for technology, but it can also be incredibly confusing with the mixed messages reported every day. How often do you watch or read a story about the latest technological advance, only to hear about some type of data breach or identity theft issue only a few minutes later? Many of us fight the internal battle of wanting to stay up-to-date with the newest electronic devices, but also keeping our personal information safe.
…but is that even possible? Can we ensure that our employees and customers remain secure and connected?
The U.S. government says yes — but it takes a lot of effort of employees and customers, too.
Ways to Help Prevent Identity Theft
It’s easy for all of us, including our customers and employees, to say we want to try to keep our personal information safe, but do we actually know how to help prevent ID theft in an ever-connected world? On an individual level, there are some basic things we can all do to stay one step ahead of identity thieves:
- Change passwords regularly– It may seem easier to have one basic password for all online accounts, but being lazy with passwords makes us much more susceptible to identity theft. Symantec, the well-known antivirus company, recommends changing passwords every three months. Create strong passwords by avoiding obvious words or names (like a pet or child’s name)), choose at least six characters and combine upper/lower case letters, numbers, and symbols if allowed.
- Limit sharing on social media– Criminals know that some people can’t help but “overshare” on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — and they make a living off of that shared personal information. Excited about an upcoming vacation and want to tell everyone on Facebook? Well, now strangers know which house will be empty for a week, making it a prime target for robbery. Even with strong privacy settings, identity thieves still often find ways to track down full name, date of birth, hometown, and names of family members. Don’t share any unnecessary information, or there’s a good chance that the employee’s or customer’s identity may be stolen.
- Check credit and bank transactions often–Advising customers and employees to check their balances often and make sure that every transaction listed is one they remember making. Identity thieves can move quickly when they have financial information, so it is essential to stay on top of things and contact the bank or credit card company the very moment something is out of place. Most will refund money, cancel the card or account, and stop the thief dead in their tracks before any more damage is done.
- Be aware of surroundings– We all frequently use our smartphones in public: when we’re standing in line at the grocery store, perhaps even when we are at a restaurant waiting, table for or we’re stuck at the DMV. Be cautious because there could be people around you who may be looking over your shoulder. They can spot personal information on a phone, write it down, and leave before anyone even know what happened. Same idea goes for using public computers at places like the library or school. It’s OK to use these electronic devices in public, just help your customers and employees be aware of their surroundings.
- Keep smartphones updated– It’s easy to ignore those annoying software updates on phones, but regular updates can play a critical role in keeping information safe. By encouraging customers and employees to run the latest software versions on their phones, they’ll also have the most up-to-date security and protection from hackers looking for vulnerabilities.
By sharing these tips with your customers and employees you will help them take a huge step toward further protecting their identity. However, it is important to remember that as the Internet’s part in our world grows, we must be more and more vigilant. For every technological advancement that allegedly makes our lives easier, there will always be identity thieves trailing close behind.