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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Compromised: Stolen numbers and passwords

So a call today from my husband's credit card company.. someone tried to use his card number to make a couple of large ticket purchases. Although appropriate steps were taken by the card company, if it had been smaller amounts, would they have noticed?  How about if it was local?

Add to that a recent article I read about stolen passwords from another website that were used to try and access BestBuy customer accounts.

Unfortunately, in this digital age, we have a security risk with corporate computer systems, credit and debit cards. If you have a credit or debit card, your accounts may have been compromised in the past.  

There are steps you can take to protect yourself:
  1. Review all your charges on every bank or charge card statement. If you didn't receive your statement during the month, check online or contact them for a replacement statement. The longer a breach goes undiscovered, the more costly it becomes.
  2. Keep your passwords for each account unique!  If someone get's a hold of your generic password, even if a really good one, you may have given them the combination to your personal "safe" of information and accounts.  The result will be hours, days, and maybe even years trying to clean up the mess.  Don't use your personal information as a password. Mix your password with numbers, upper and lowercase letters.
  3. Protect your computer with antivirus and a firewall. Keep it updated and run the scan regularly.
  4.  Remove all unnecessary cards and information (such as social security cards) from your wallet. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 14% of identity theft is a result of stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit cards.
  5. A recent study suggests that you are in greater danger from identity thieves rummaging for important papers in your trash or breaking into your mailbox. Invest in a shredder. Shred your old mail and lock your mailbox.
For more information on Identity Theft, check out these Federal Trade Commission articles:
Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do 
Deter: Minimize Your Risk

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