June 9, 2014

10 Things I Know About... Preventing ID theft

10. Use cash or gift cards

The threat of identity theft is reduced dramatically if you don't use your credit card for all your purchases, so consider using cash or even gift cards to pay your way.

9. PCI compliance is important

The payment card industry has a set of security standards for a reason: they work. Make sure your business and the businesses you deal with are compliant.

8. Pay bills online

The theft of paper bills, bank statements or tax returns is a major component of identity theft. You can avoid it by going paperless and dealing with these things online.

7. Have a WISP

If your company collects any kind of personal data, you should have a written information security program — or WISP — that outlines your efforts to keep that data safe.

6. Watch transactions

Sit down on a regular basis to make sure you can identify every transaction in your bank account or business account.

5. Check your credit report

There are a number of agencies that will provide you with a free credit report that you can check to ensure no one is running up debt in your name.

4. Don't share personal data

There are very sophisticated scams and phishing attempts that trick you into divulging personal data by email, text, letter or phone call. Always verify that the source is bona fide.

3. Use security software

You should have a working firewall and anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your systems. Make sure you schedule regular scans.

2. Be careful what you throw away

Whether it's old paperwork or an old hard drive, if there's a chance it has sensitive information on it or data that a thief could use, make sure you destroy it before you throw it away.

1. Pick strong passwords

Never use names or numbers related to you, such as your Social Security number or your mother's maiden name as passwords. They should be random.

Michelle Drolet is founder of Towerwall, a data security services provider in Framingham. Contact her at michelled@towerwall.com.

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