What personal information should you safeguard?

Authored by a Symantec employee


Some 10 million identity thefts happen in the United States every year. Taking  extra steps to protect your personal information—and knowing what information  you need to safeguard—is the best way to prevent identity theft from happening  to you. Let’s review this information to help you protect yourself as much as  possible:

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Low Sensitivity 

Among the information considered “low risk” in regard to personal information  sensitivity is your full name, address, and phone number.

Medium Sensitivity 

Information regarded as “medium” in terms of sensitivity includes your date of  birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name.

High Sensitivity 

The most sensitive information to protect includes your bank account numbers,  social security number, pin numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords.

Other Sensitive Information 

Additional sensitive information likely to attract identity thieves includes  your usernames, places of employment, medical records, employment history,  residential history, children’s names and dates of birth, and even anniversary  dates.

What You Can Do Offline 

There are numerous ways to protect your information offline as well as online.  Offline tasks include locking all financial documents and records within your  home in a safe place. Consider investing in a small safe to further protect  important documents. 

It also helps to limit the amount of information you carry. Take only what you  need on a daily basis, such as your identification, ATM card, and credit  cards, but only the ones you use on a regular basis. If you have a credit card  in your wallet that you never use, put it in a safe place. Never keep your  social security card in your wallet, and leave any other bank information at  home. 

Another way to protect yourself offline is to shred sensitive information,  including credit card offers and applications, receipts, insurance forms,  physician statements, checks, bank statements, and old credit cards. If you  don’t need it anymore, get rid of it, but not before shredding. Identity  thieves are notorious for looking through trash and applying for credit cards  in other people’s names, so ensure that doesn’t happen to you. Many  communities host shredding events where you can shred your documents safely. 

It also helps to destroy labels on prescription bottles before throwing them  out, and to request a hold on your mail while on vacation. If a company is  asking you for information and you aren’t sure why, just ask.

What You Can Do Online 

Keeping your information secure online involves removing any pertinent data  that’s stored on your computer before you get rid of it. Just because the  device is on its last legs doesn’t mean it hasn’t stored a wealth of personal  information. The same is true of your mobile devices. 

Using strong passwords is key to protecting your  information online, so avoid using the same, easy-to-crack passwords, no  matter how much you love your pet. Infuse each password with numbers and  symbols to make it as difficult as possible to figure out. 

Another way to safeguard your personal information online is to encrypt your data. Keeping your browser secure via  encryption software guards online transactions, as it scrambles information  sent over the Internet. Look for a “lock”  icon on your browser status bar to make  certain the information you send is protected. You should also use quality security software on all of your devices, and remember to update them regularly

Protecting your information online also means not oversharing on social media. Make your Facebook page private,  and do the same with Twitter and Instagram if you have the habit of posting  about where you are and what you’re doing all the time. The less you share on  social media, the less chance there is of someone taking advantage. 

Wi-Fi is another method by which identity thieves and hackers can steal your  information, so stick to protected Wi-Fi options instead of  using a different one every day at a different coffee shop. Stay alert of  phishing emails as well, and know what to look for. In other words, don’t ever  open a file sent from someone you don’t know. 

Know what data is the most sensitive, and do everything you can to protect it!

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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Norton LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

Norton by Symantec is now Norton LifeLock. LifeLock™ identity theft protection is not available in all countries.

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