Good Information That Bears Repeating

We seem to be inundated with information to the extent that we can be overwhelmed.  What should we pay attention to? What isn’t relevant to our situation? Is the information being provided valid and authentic?  So, what should we do? 

First of all, be cautious on the source of the information.  Is it from a trusted source?  In our world today, identity theft is on the rise and many people may not have even realized their identity has been compromised until after damage has occurred.  Cybercrimes are happening all of the time.  So, what can we do to protect ourselves?  It doesn’t require a technology expert – just common sense and diligence. 

Don’t open suspicious emails.  If they are from an unknown sender, they could be damaging. 

Only provide sensitive information on secure websites.  Remember that many public web connections are not secure and expose any user to potential hacking. 

All of your hardware should be protected by firewalls and anti-virus protectors. 

Use unique passwords that are strong and unique.  And, don’t use the same password for all websites or use obvious passwords like “password”, your name, etc.  Secure passwords are usually at least 8 characters long, are a combination of letters and numbers, have upper and lower case letters and may contain a symbol. 

You can get an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS which is a six-digit code that is used when filing your federal tax returns if you suspect your identity has been compromised.

Don’t carry your Social Security card or notes with your SSN on your person.  Also, do you really need to carry every credit card you have with you?  If you have store cards, many stores will allow you to charge to your account with identification, in which case, you don’t need to carry your card.

If you have workers in your home, make certain that your confidential information is concealed and not left in the open.  If there are individuals on an extended basis, it may be pertinent to lock up sensitive information. 

These precautions are not difficult nor require much effort.  Be diligent, cautious and alert.  Protect yourself.  Don’t allow yourself to become a victim.

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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