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New Year's resolutions that can jeopardize your identity

Jan 30, 2018 02:07PM

You’ve rung in the New Year,  sang Auld Lang Syne, did some self-reflection, and declared your resolutions.  Many attempts to become a better you, however, can jeopardize your identity.  Follow these tips to protect your information:

Get in shape.
  Ready to hit the gym and search for your elusive six-pack abs?  When you apply for membership, be cautious about how much personal information you give. If you are required to provide a social security number or copy of your driver’s license, don’t be afraid to ask how the gym keeps that information safe.

Identity thieves target gym lockers for wallets and purses, so bring a strong lock and choose a locker in the most high-traffic, visible part of the locker room.  Ask the gym what they do to ensure security (cameras, employee background checks, locked doors, etc.)

Get organized.  As you clean out your file cabinets, look for personal identifying information, including your social security number, bank account or credit card numbers, and date of birth.  Before throwing away any financial statements, past taxes, medical records or other documents containing such information, you’ll need to shred them.

While you’re organizing your physical files, why not take a few hours to get your computer organized for the new year:
  • Make a backup of your hard drive. A timely backup can help mitigate the damage in a malware or ransomware attack.
  • Update your antivirus and malware protection software.
  • Make sure your operating system is up to date.  When the Petya ransomware attack hit in 2017, it targeted vulnerabilities in the operating system on computers that weren’t updated.
Improve financial health.  This is the year that you will get rid of debt or save toward a new goal.  Keeping your identity and financial information safe are a huge part of financial health.  Here are a few easy proactive steps to consider:
  • Pull your credit reports.  Federal law ensures you can get a free copy of all three credit bureau reports at annualcreditreport.com.  Check for any errors and make sure that all of the loans and credit cards listed belong to you.
  • Change your passwords for financial institutions and email. Make sure that you create strong passwords using a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.  Don’t use your bank passwords anywhere else.
  • Set up a password manager.  If like most people, you have trouble remembering strong, unique passwords for all of your online activities, try a password manager.  You only have to remember one password (for the manager) and it securely stores the rest. Many antivirus packages include a password manager, or some are available online for free.
  • Sign up for identity and credit monitoring services.  It’s the most proactive way to quickly catch and resolve problems, should they occur.
Another tip?  The Corsaro Insurance Group offers identity fraud protection coverage.  This type of protection provides coverage for expenses associated with identity theft as well identity management and recovery services to help restore your credit and identity records.  It’s valuable peace of mind!

Courtesy of the Corsaro Insurance Group and Central Insurance Companies.

Matthew Corsaro is the president and owner of the Corsaro Insurance Group in Mentor, Ohio.  His company and staff have been providing insurance solutions to families and business owners for over forty years.  Mr. Corsaro has obtained the Accredited Advisor in Insurance and Certified Insurance Counselor designations.  Corsaro Insurance Group represents over twenty insurance companies.  As well they have expertise in all areas of auto, home and business insurance.  They can be reached at 440-946-4950.

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