It happens to A LOT of people; to enumerate, 7 million people. According to an online survey conducted for Symantec by The Harris Poll in 2018, 7 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017.
It makes you wonder: well, how safe am I?
Katie Norton is an independent agent with LegalShield & IDShield. She is an Employee Benefits & Identity Theft Specialist and she is certified to go into companies and train their employees on how to prevent identity theft in the workplace. The official name of what she does is (long, but it is called) Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist (CITRMS).
Katie Norton: I’ve worked with over 200 companies just in the Jacksonville market, going in and talking to them just about this very thing, doing a workshop with them, getting all their employees signed off, that they’ve been through the training. Really, that’s what they need. They need to have someone come in, and train their employees on how to prevent the simple things of identity theft.
If you would like to have Katie come in to train your employees, click here.
On the show, Katie and I talk about how easy it is for regular people and professional hackers to get to your personal information. Katie shares with us some consumable tips that we can start practicing in our daily lives to prevent identity theft and hacking.
- Logout of work and public computers
Katie Norton: You know, over 70% of identity theft happens in the work originates in the workplace, not because of an employee’s intent. Really, because of employee error. They do something like walk away from their desk, and leave information out on the desk. Somebody walks by with a camera, you know, we all have one, we carry it with us on our hip, or at our purse, everywhere we go.
[So], I always tell employers, make sure that your employees are using a two-lock policy. If they’re walking away with something sensitive in their office, it should be locked. Even if they’re just walking down the hall to get a bottle of water, going to the restroom, they need to consider a two-lock policy. Lock your desk, lock your door, make sure the building is locked at night, because of things like that.
If you want to protect your (and others’) personal information, then lock those computers and offices. Five seconds of human error could burden you with 600 hours of repairing your identity. Take that extra five seconds to simply lock your computer and door and you WILL lower your chances of being a victim.
- Use Incognito windows when making purchases on the internet (IT CAN SAVE YOU $$$)
Katie Norton: So, we travel, right? We’re often in hotel lobbies using the computers, or maybe we’re at the office store because we have to print something out, and we’re using their internet, their websites. Really, what we should be doing, even if we’re using those, is using an incognito browser. It’s just a matter of right-clicking on the tab at the top of your internet explorer and saying I want to open a ‘New Incognito Window.’
Where [using an incognito window] saves you money, whenever it comes to airlines, is if you’re going to the same computer from the same IP [address] over and over again, and they see you’re searching for the same flight, to get a better price, to get a better price. You’ll notice it keeps going up, up, up, there is no better price. It’s because some of them, [they are tracking you and raising the price.] -Katie Norton
This is true, airlines want to scare you into buying the ticket. It’s called personalized pricing or price discrimination – and it results in different prices for different people for the same product. To protect your personal information as well as price discrimination, use those incognito browsers. Here’s a short video from Chrome on how to use the Incognito feature.
- Phishing emails – Don’t click
Katie Norton: Then the phishing emails. You brought that up earlier, they’re so easy to trick someone. My brother, just the other day, called me and said, “Hey, I just got a message on my computer that if I don’t call this number, that they’re going to take over my computer. It’s Microsoft.” I said-
Pete: It’s weird, because they look so official, they’ll have the logo of whatever it is, and say, oh, we just need a password update. I was watching one on one of those expo shows on TV, I don’t know which one, like a 48 hours … Not 48 hours. What’s … I don’t know. One of these ones where they were doing this thing on identity theft. The very people, the producers that were on the show going through, meeting the guests, and talking, all this stuff, we said, watch this. We’re going to send them an email, that we’re updating, we’re all getting brand new phones. They’re going to be so excited that they’re going to be getting all brand new phones, all they have to do is send in so they can update the software, just send us your password, send this, and your new phone will be issued today. Both the producers of that show immediately got the email, responded to it, and then all of a sudden the camera crew comes in and says, hey, did you fools know that you just did exactly what they said? But it was legit, it was from this, and we’re getting new phones. Well, number one, you’re not getting new phones, and number two, you’re stupid. We just told you not to do this stuff.
Katie Norton: It is absolutely crazy what happens. Just with the phishing emails, if you just hover over top of the email address that it comes from, you’ll see it’s not really that address. Just never, ever click on a link on an email. I know we’ve heard that over and over again, and it’s a simple tip. But never click on a link in an email. Just go directly, matter of fact, pick up the phone. It’s old fashioned, it’s really direct, there’s no way to hack it. So pick up the phone and call your bank, call your credit card company, or whatever it might be.
Here is an example of how to check for spam email:
- Look at the “To:” These pictures have “undisclosed-recipients.” That should set some flags off
- Too good to be true (if you won a contest you have not even entered)
- Using all caps in the subject line
- Look at the “From:” email, if it is not a credible address, it is probably spam.
- If they request personal information
- Use Two-Factor Authentication
We didn’t get a chance to elaborate on this term more on the show, however, I do want to share what it is now.
Two-Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security. It requires two ways to verify the user (1) a password and username but also (2) something that ONLY that user has on them. It is a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand, i.e. a picture, icon, a physical token. This makes it harder for criminals and hackers to steal personal information. To read more about it, click here.
- Create Smarter Passwords
Katie Norton: [If I am a hacker and going to hacking your account] I’m going to be thinking about that, and I’m going to be looking for your anniversaries, looking for your birthdays. I see people literally trying to think how quickly can they get to their computer or their phone to change their password because I’ve really guessed, if I really did know the name of their kid, their kid’s birthday, that they would have … I would be in their password. So we need to be thinking about using smarter passwords, or even a password generator. ID Shield has ID Vault, and you know, there is other ones, Lass Pass, and so on. But using one, where it generates the password for you, and then fills it in for you later. I could never remember any of the ones they generate, never remember those.
Passwords should be hard for you another to guess. If your passwords (right now, as you read) contain:
- names of people who are significant to you
- your pet’s name
- a significant date (your birthday, your kid’s birthdays)
these are all things hackers (with enough research) can retrieve THEN please, change them. It can be hard to remember, especially with everything now having passwords, but look into ways to keep them for you.
We really hope that you start using these tips so you can set yourself apart from those 7 million people, who had their identity stolen last year. If you aren’t propelled to start using these simple tips, Katie has something she wants you to know:
Katie Norton: If you think about it, there are people out there that still say, I don’t get on the computer, I’m not susceptible to this, I can take care of it myself if it happens. It’s not true. It takes 600 man hours to restore someone’s identity on an average basis. They think because they’ve never been on a computer, they don’t do social media, that they’re not vulnerable. But if you’ve ever been anywhere, and you’ve given them your driver’s license, your social, your medical ID, and you’ve had them copy it on a copier, now you’re open, you’re exposed, because I mean, have you heard of this before? Where they go in, and they buy the copiers after they’ve been turned back over to the leasing companies — they’ve extracted 48,000 documents and they sell most of it.
The point is, next time it could be you.
Remember to not only proactively (1) prevent but also to (2) plan if such a situation were to evolve.
I didn’t write down all the tips that Katie shared on the show, so if you want to listen (or even read the show), go to PeteTheJobGuy.com or click here. (and practice those link-awareness skills and hover to see the site we’re linking 😉 )