2013 Online Security Tips: New Year’s Resolutions to Protect Against Identity Theft

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It is nearing the end of 2012 and it if you haven’t made your new year’s resolution by now, you better get started. This year was a big year for identity theft. From data breaches to new technology, identity thieves were quite active and show no signs of slowing down in 2013. So why not make your new year’s resolution about protecting yourself from identity theft?

Here are some great examples of resolutions you can make to make sure your 2013 isn’t marred by a nasty case of identity theft.

  1. Clear out your wallet: Many people carry items in their purse or wallet that leave them vulnerable to identity theft. Take the time to remove your Social Security card, checkbook, passport, extra credit cards, and anything else with personal identifying information. If you want to take this one step further, make an inventory of what is still left in your wallet so that if it is stolen you will easily be able to protect yourself from identity theft.
  2. Give your computer a fresh start: There are all kinds of nasty viruses out there which identity thieves use to commit their crimes. The best line of defense against these crooks is to be sure that you have an up-to-date antivirus installed on your computer. Make sure all of the recommended patches are also updated and that your wireless network has a good strong password.
  3. Change your passwords: One of the best lines of defense against having an account takeover is a strong password. Take this fresh opportunity to change your old passwords and create stronger ones. Do not use words that can be found in the dictionary. Hackers can run a program that goes through the entire dictionary very quickly and crack any password which can be found in the dictionary. Use numbers, upper and lower case letters, punctuation in your passwords. Don’t forget that the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Create different passwords on each of your accounts. If you have trouble remembering all of these passwords you can look into using a password manager.
  4. Monitor your credit reports: Should you become a victim of identity theft, one of the best ways to find out is by monitoring your credit reports. You can do this for free at www.annualcreditreport.com . There are three different credit reporting agencies and consumers can receive one report from each, every year. If you stagger your free accounts and pull one every four months, you can monitor your credit for free.

The new year is fast approaching and perhaps you should try something out of the ordinary this time around. Honestly, isn’t cleaning out your wallet easier than avoiding that chocolate cupcake? So this year, give it a try and protect yourself from identity theft and have a wonderful new year.

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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.