We keep turning on the news and hearing about large data breaches at major companies. These companies maintain large amounts of valuable Personally Identifiable Information. On the black market, your identity may be worth between $5 and $30. This value is very dependent on the actual information up for sale. Credit card numbers are worth much less than Social Security Numbers, and SSNs paired with names and address rapidly increase the value. Remember, credit cards can be canceled with a quick call, but your social security number is with you forever.
Here is what I do to keep my identity safe:
- Experian,Equifax andTransunion give you the ability to “Freeze” your credit for a cost of $5 to freeze and $5 to unfreeze (costs vary by state). With a credit freeze, nobody is able to open credit or get a loan with your name. It does not do criminals much good if they cannot get a credit card or loan. I have not had any trouble with the “Unfreeze” process, and I recommend every person put a freeze on his or her credit. There are two minor inconveniences involved:
- You will no longer be able to sign up for a store charge card at the checkout counter. Do you really need an extra card in your wallet?
- It will cost you $15 to unlock your credit when you are purchasing a car, house, or opening a credit card. This is a small price to pay for security, and one loan officer was even willing to refund the $15 for me.
- Get your free credit report every year. Check it for errors, prior addresses, payment history. Any errors need to be corrected quickly.
- Use strong password practices.
- Mix capital/lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
- Avoid using the same password at multiple web sites.
- Do not use the “remember password” option on your web browser. Free programs like Keepass are a better option for saving your passwords.
- At minimum, change your passwords annually.
- Link to the most used passwords of 2014: http://www.cnet.com/news/worst-passwords-of-2014-are-just-as-awful-as-you-can-imagine/
If you would like to discuss cyber liability insurance coverage, please give me, Scott Bissell, a call at 301-948-5800 ext 115 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.