Cybersecurity 101: Protect your identity from thieves who could leave you a credit mess

Updated Apr 9, 2020

Cybersecurity 101 is a new monthly series on Overdrive intended to help owner-operators and small fleets navigate the growing risks of cybersecurity threats, identity theft, online scams and more. In this installment, privacy expert Robert Siciliano, CEO of safr.me, details best practices for avoiding having your identity stolen. 

Request your free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Refute unauthorized accounts immediately.Request your free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Refute unauthorized accounts immediately.

There are tried and true ways to protect yourself from identity theft, especially for those like owner-operators, who are often away from home for long periods of time. If your identity is stolen, thieves can use that information to access banking information or open credit accounts in your name — leaving you to clean up the mess of accounts you didn’t open or use.

Evaluate your passwords. Does every online account have a different password or are you using the same one for multiple accounts? Fix this problem immediately by investing in a password manager software. Avoid using actual words or names, or keyboard sequences. Password managers facilitate the password creation process.

Robert Siciliano is a CEO of Safr.me and CreditParent.com, as well as a best-selling Amazon author, the home security expert for Porch.com and the developer of the CSI Protection program.Robert Siciliano is a CEO of Safr.me and CreditParent.com, as well as a best-selling  Amazon author, the home security expert for Porch.com and the developer of the CSI Protection program.

Never post anything personal on social media. This includes your pet’s name, name of your kids’ school or teacher, where you’re going on vacation, the town your parents live in, etc.

Ignore emails whose senders you don’t know. Never click links in emails or open attachments you’re not expecting.

Set your phone up with a password. If it’s lost or stolen, you’ll have no worries.

Shred everything. All your credit card offers, medical records and other personal information before tossing.

Never give out your Social Security number unless it’s absolutely mandatory, like for a job application. Just because someone says they can’t process your request without your SSN doesn’t mean you must hand it over. The objective is to minimize how much your SSN is “out there.”

Request a free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Refute unauthorized accounts immediately.

Inspect your statements such as credit card and banking statements every month for suspicious activity.

Use a locking mailbox or have your mail delivered to the post office and pick up.

Stop mail deliveries when you’ll be away from home for long periods of time.

Get a credit freeze. This is a no brainer to protect you from new account fraud.

Invest in identity theft protection. There is no cure for identity theft. But with a protection plan in place, the restoration component will fix most of what goes wrong.

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