Ways identity theft can happen to you

I recently took a trip to Canada and discovered that when you pay your bill at a restaurant, a portable credit card machine is brought to your table. Your card chip is read, then you can add a dollar or percentage tip, a receipt is printed. Your credit card is never out of your possession. What a great way to help prevent identity theft, too bad in this country we don’t insist that our credit card never leave our possession.

Most countries have been using chip cards for years, we’ve only just started and it’s not fully implemented yet. Sometimes we are our worst enemy when it comes to protecting our identity. So what can you do, be alert and not be complacent.

For online security, never use a password twice and make sure your passwords are at least 14 characters long, made up of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use words from the dictionary. There’s no way you can remember your passwords if you’re using them correctly, so do yourself a favor and get a good password manager. They can be one of your best investments. Also make sure your computers are up to date and use a good Internet security program that includes, at a minimum, antivirus, antispam, firewall, and Internet protection.

Your medical information and records are also fertile ground for the identity thief. All medical providers, doctors, dentists, hospitals, and other providers have your social security number along with your address and other personal information. This is all they need to get credit as if they were you. To protect yourself, stop giving your social security number to medical providers. Keep track of your medical information and history, this is supposed to be online now. If you have Medicare, your social security number is your Medicare number, this is your government at work. You have the power to change this, use it.

There have been different discussions about credit monitoring services, whether they are worth it or not. Yes, you can do what they do, if you have time. Others say freeze your credit. My opinion is to get some level of credit protection, they will keep track of your credit cards, bank and social security number and personal information, and then send you monthly reports. If you become a victim, they will help you recover your identity and pay for it.

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