Congressman Bilirakis held two Identity Theft Prevention Fairs yesterday. I was asked to attend as a representative of my company, Urban E Recycling because of our policy and procedures in how we destroy data. But what surprised me, is the things I didn’t know, and things I knew but forgot or disregarded because they didn’t seem to apply to me at the time. Here is a simple checklist to start with.
1. Do not carry your social security card around with you. This might seem to be obvious by now, but I have to admit, I carried mine around for months because I need to copy it for some reason. I didn’t bother to put it away for some time. Shame on me. Don’t make this mistake. Have a place for your social security card and keep it safe.
2. Open a social security account. Go to: http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ and set up an account. Do this before someone else sets one up in your name. This is an added protection for your identification. It’s available, and it’s free. If you receive an account confirmation in that mail and you did not apply yet; That is another real problem. Call the social security office immediately. The number is 1-800-772-1213
3. Don’t fall for phishing scams. Phishers are getting very good at fooling us. Never respond to an email that asked for your personal information. If your bank, or other companies you do business with, asked for your personal information; go to their website, or call the institution to see if they need the info. Most likely they do not. They should already have everything they need.
4. Read your bank statements often. If you bank online, you should be able to see what is going out of your account as often as you want. If you still bank through the mail, check your monthly statement. Respond to anything out of the ordinary, right away. 5. If anyone asks you to get a Green Dot Card, beware. A Green Dot Card is a pre-paid credit card and is just like cash as far as the thief is concerned. They are readily available at Walgreen, CVS, Walmart and other easy to get locations; and I’m sure the scammer will tell you where to get one. Don’t do it.
6. Never pay money to receive lottery winnings. Lotteries do not make you pay upfront to get winnings. This is a common scam over the telephone and by mail.7. Do not give to charities unless you know, for certain, who they are. After a disaster, unscrupulous individuals will try to collect for named charities and prey on kind, unsuspecting souls. In reality, the money they receive goes into their own pockets.
8. Just because someone knows a friend of a family name, don’t assume they are genuine. Thieves are building profiles from social media. It’s not uncommon for crooks to use family names to lure you out of savings. With the internet, information is easily apprehended.
9. Do not pay bills or credit cards through the mail at your mailbox. The raised flag tells thieves there are treasures inside. It like telling someone to ‘rob me.”
10. Last but not least, report scams immediately. It takes months to clean up a successful identity crime. Don’t make it any longer. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov. Visit ftd.gov/idtheft for other ideas to minimize your risk. If you get unsolicited emails, you can send them to email@example.com. 11.
One of the biggest increases in ID theft is from medical file. Simply ask how your information is stored where you receive medical attention. Don’t readily give your social security number out just because someone asks. Urban E Recycling is discovering what is important to our clients. Right on the top of the list is security. We’ve invested thousands of dollars and multiple hours of education to stay on top of this assignment. Please let us know if there is a concern we have not addressed or interest we should take up that somehow we are missing. We are available for speaking engagements and educational sessions on e-waste recycling and data security. www.urbanerecycling.com