If you think you’re safe from identity theft, think again. The bad guys are increasingly successful at obtaining confidential information. The recent news about the Target and Neiman-Marcus security breach illustrates that even competent companies can be vulnerable and divulge personal credit card information. So what can you do to protect yourself and minimize the risk of big-time problems? Here are some tips to help.

There are some precautions that are always good for protecting your personal information: never share your password, never choose a password that anyone who knows you can easily guess (such as the initials of your children or their birth years) and always protect your internet devices (such as smart phone) with a password. Those things will keep the casual trouble-maker from having success.

But there are other more intensive efforts you can make. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided a very good resource for Consumers on its website. One of its series on Protecting Your Identity, “How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure” lists ways to:

  • keep your personal information secure offline and online,
  • secure your Social Security Number, and
  • keep your devices (such as computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or ‘dumb’ phone) secure.

We like the recommendation to safely dispose of personal information by using a shredder and avoid “over-sharing” on social networking sites such as Facebook. And here’s another one: destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.

Much has been said about how critically important it is to be discrete and careful with the things that suggest access to confidential information. A passive attitude about identity theft may be your worst enemy! Take your good name seriously, and protect it by paying attention to its threats!