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Information Security

Personal Security

Information Security

Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft. There are four main ways to do it: know who you share information with; store and dispose of your personal information securely, especially your Social Security number; ask questions before deciding to share your personal information; and maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices.

 

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Offline

Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from roommates or workers who come into your home. Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.

Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer. Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.

 

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Online
Know who you share your information with. Store and dispose of your personal information securely.

  • Be Alert to Impersonators
    Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email.
  • Safely Dispose of Personal Information
    Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive. Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from a mobile device. Remove the phone book, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, messages sent and received, organizer folders, web search history, and photos.
  • Encrypt Your Data
    Keep your browser secure. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Keep Passwords Private
    Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.

Securing Your Social Security Number

Keep a close hold on your Social Security number and ask questions before deciding to share it. Ask if you can use a different kind of identification. If someone asks you to share your SSN or your child’s, ask:

  • Why they need it
  • How it will be used
  • How they will protect it
  • What happens if you don’t share the number

The decision to share is yours. A business may not provide you with a service or benefit if you don’t provide your number. Sometimes you will have to share your number. Your employer and financial institutions need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes.