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You can put the brakes on ID thieves

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Editor’s note: This article was submitted by the Better Business bureau.

EVANSVILLE – With identity theft on the rise, consumers are working harder than ever to keep their personal information secure. But even with the greatest of care, it seems some thieves are still finding the information needed to open credit cards, file tax returns and live lives using the financial information of others.

Consumers ask, “Where are they finding this information and what more can I do?” Your Better Business Bureau has a few insights and tips:

1) Think before you post: Social media is a great place for thieves to find personal information. If you post nick names, pet names, children’s names, favorite hobbies and sports, these are great guesses for passwords. If women include their maiden names, you connect and designate family members, or birthdates are listed, thieves might gain a few more answers to regularly used security questions or applications.

To help prevent this information from being seen by unintended audiences, consider increasing security on these social media pages, guard what is posted for all to view and if you wish to share personal information, consider “inboxing” or sending e-mail to the specific people who should be “in the know.”

2) Keep an eye on your trash: Yes, in this instance, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Trash is typically easy to access, may contain mail, statements and invoices and may even include your personal notes and signature. A bag can also easily be thrown into the back of a vehicle to “sort out the details” later. Protect yourself by shredding the personal documents you discard, and when it makes sense, use a professional service to help.

3) Guard your mail: We briefly touched on this above, but mail also often includes lots of personal information, including newly mailed credit and ID cards, personal identification numbers and other highly valuable data for thieves. It also can be quickly and easily removed, without alert.

What can you do? Do not allow mail to sit for long periods of time in your mailbox. If you are concerned about security, consider renting a post office box from USPS. If you are planning a trip, consider having USPS hold your mail for a designated amount of time.

4) Safeguard your passwords: As difficult as it may be to remember a multitude of passwords, do your best to not reuse the same ones again and again. Consider strong passwords containing capital and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation, and avoid using any common names or items you would use on social media. If you keep a list of passwords, be sure to secure it in a discrete location.

5) Above and beyond: For some savvy thieves, it truly seems “where there’s a will, there is a way.”

We have heard of thieves who have simply called requesting a new password for an account with success and others who have opened a new email account in a consumer’s name, then requested a “new temporary password” be sent to the account. We are certain even more technologically savvy tactics are being tried to side-step security measures.

For as many businesses as you use, you can find different security policies, but as a consumer, you may wish to request and review the details of how your information is handled.

You may also wish to inquire about special passwords that can be placed on your account and request a call or alert for confirmation when account changes are made.

If in reviewing security terms, you are unhappy with the measures used, ask for changes or consider a different vendor for your service. Review a free BBB Business Review for any company you consider at www.evansville.bbb.org.