Friday, December 20, 2013

Guest Post: Identity Thieves Prey on the Unassuming this Holiday Season Becky Frost, Experian's ProtectMyID

Disclosure / Disclaimer:  I received this info, free of charge,from Pitch PR, for blog posting purposes. No compensation,  monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post/review. Nor was I told what to say, all opinions are my own, and yours may be different.




With all the hustle and bustle of the last days before Christmas, you aren't taking a break, and nor are thieves! Becky is with us today to share some GREAT reminders! Be Safe!

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The holiday season is in full swing and many families are gearing up to hit the road in the next couple of weeks. For parents, this includes planning on-the-go entertainment for the kids and whether traveling by car or plane, electronic devices are a must. However, use of smartphones, tablets and laptops while traveling can also put your family’s identity at risk, especially your children. Children under the age of 18 have become prime targets for identity theft because most parents don’t notice that their child’s identity has been stolen so it buys time for thieves to use a child’s Social Security number to apply for and use credit in your child’s name. 

Here are some tips to protect your family members’ identities while on the go this holiday season:

Say No to Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi hotspots are a breeding ground for identity thieves waiting to hack into others’ information found on their mobile devices. Consider a portable router to create your own Wi-Fi hotspot for your family’s phones, tablets and laptops. You’ll need a local SIM data card, which is available at most electronic stores, or even airport kiosks. 

Keep Hackers Away: According to recent statistics, more than two-thirds of online adults use a free or unsecured Wi-Fi network, giving hackers free access to the networks. Make sure you are logging into secured or private network when you use Wi-Fi. But if you have to use public Wi-Fi, be very cautious of using unsecured networks and avoid visiting sites that contain private information, like bank accounts. 

Use Restraint with Social Media: Sharing moments from your trip on Facebook may seem like a no brainer, but think again. Checking in or posting pictures while out of  town can potentially alert strangers that you’re not home and open you up to risk of burglary. It’s advised to wait to post until after you return home but if you just can’t wait, be sure to set your privacy settings to “friends” only to limit the amount of people aware of your out of town status.

Is It The Real Deal?: Make sure the URL site you’re logging on from your mobile device is legitimate. This is especially important to consider during the holiday shopping season. Cyberspace is riddled with URL spoof sites that are created to steal your information. Before you hit the road, play it safe by bookmarking your favorite sites and stick to visiting them while you’re on a trip since mobile browsers do not show the URL.

Guard your Social Networks. If you have a blog or social accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, use the highest security settings possible to ensure your information, posts and photos aren’t being leaked onto the Internet. 

Password Protection: A weak password to your online accounts is like leaving your wallet wide open for anyone to rummage through it. Make it a priority to use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation to make your passwords harder to crack and change it often.

Protect your Mobile Devices. Password encryption is often just as important for your mobile phone, a tablet or laptop when it comes to protecting your personal information. Be sure to protect them with strong passwords and encryption. For another layer of protection, consider installing wiping software on your mobile device so that you can remove your information remotely if your device goes missing. 

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Becky Frost is senior manager of consumer education for Experian’s ProtectMyID.

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