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Welcome to the ProtectMyID Blog

Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.

 

Calling all Digital Packrats: Spring-Clean Your Devices to Avoid Identity Theft

Apr 13

Digital_Cleaning_PMID

Have you become a digital packrat? It’s all too easy to slack when things are busy, but if you have over a thousand images in your camera roll, or your inbox has exploded in recent months, you might be holding onto way more – and in a less secure place – than you mean to. Your digital files catalog today’s memorable moments in life, along with the important documents that your email account may contain. Keeping your information in a holding zone that’s less protected than your long-term storage makes it more vulnerable to theft attacks by opportunistic hackers and other fraudsters. Make sure you’re periodically purging information and memories off your devices to minimize the risk of physical theft. Just as losing that old shoebox of snapshots is a frustrating realization, managing your information is freeing when you know you have everything as secure – or as accessible – as you need it to be.

With the world in our hands these days thanks to mobile smartphones and tablets, consider a few tips to spring clean your setup at home and on the go. When protecting your identity is a major concern, make sure the weak link isn’t the mobility you need to stay connected to our digital world. So how can you make a quick scan and check in on your files? Add the following to your next session online:

  • In your email, go through your sent folder and delete all the messages you no longer need to keep.
  • Greeted by a riptide of too many sales emails each time you flip through your inbox? Do a quick term search for “Unsubscribe” to see what you can opt out of.
  • Scan over your inboxes and delete the old messages you can say good-bye to.
  • If you have set up a file system for your documents, take a moment to look over your file structure. It’s a prime opportunity to reorder, consolidate and delete documents you can safely determine you’ll no longer need. Also, if you use an external hard drive to back up your documents, consider moving some of your archive folders offline to that drive.
  • Change your passwords. Just like changing the batteries in smoke detectors, passwords should be changed at least every 6 months. A strong written password includes a mix of capital letters, numbers and special characters that’s memorable to you but doesn’t include easily guessable personal information. Its root might also be a misspelling of a word you’ll remember. You can use a password for more than one item, however don’t use one password for everything and don’t remember not to record the password somewhere it can be stolen.
  • Finally, if you share the use of your computer with others who use social media platforms or programs, make sure you isolate any sensitive documents like financial records, tax documents or items with passwords or Social Security numbers into a single file. If you choose to keep it on your computer instead of off-lining it to a secured external hard drive, encrypt this file with password protection so it has further protection from any inadvertently downloaded malware or spyware.

Taking these few, simple steps can help you better protect yourself against identity theft and know you’ve given your files a recentshuffle and tune-up.