Last week we reviewed the new Identity Thief movie and shared a trailer of the hilarious hijinks between Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman.
Not surprisingly, the subject of identity theft is getting a lot of mainstream coverage these days.
In fact, the Today show’s website recently ran an article from Bankrate.com suggesting that identity theft is not as funny as in the movies.
Obviously it’s not, but the bright side of Hollywood publicizing such a crime is that it forces people to talk about an issue that is often misunderstood at best, ignored at worst.
Just last week a woman in Alabama was indicted on a million-dollar identity theft scheme — she faces five years in prison. And in California, another woman has been sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison after being convicted of identity theft and related charges.
With the movie’s premiere and heightened level of awareness surrounding identity theft, everyone is being reminded that we must protect our identity the same way we protect other valuables.
“When you go on vacation, you lock your house. It is the same thing with identity theft. You cannot prevent it altogether. But you can make it much harder for the thieves to get in,” explains Eva Velasquez, president and chief executive officer of the ITRC.
She shared several prevention steps that consumers can take to protect their valuable personal information — easily remembered with the acronym SHRED:
- S: Strengthen passwords online. Don’t use the same password on multiple sites.
- H: Handle personally identifying information with care. “Guard that personal information and don’t just give it out to anybody who asks for it. Do not carry your Social Security card on your person. For child identity theft, for parents, really guard children’s personal information,” says Velasquez.
- R: Read your credit report annually. Get a copy of your free credit report once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- E: Empty your purse or wallet.
- D: Discuss these tips with family and friends.
The team here at Private WiFi has another tip — SHRED with a VPN! After all, a VPN is the only way to encrypt all your wifi activities in wireless hotspots like Starbucks, hotels, and airports. A virtual private network is just that — it keeps all information transmitted over your wifi connection private and invisible to hackers.