Did you know that this week is both fraud protection and simplify your life week? I don’t know about you, but I feel like this is a contradiction of terms. It seems that in order to protect myself from fraud, I have to create very complex passwords, wary of whom my information is going to, and often increasing the complexity of my life. In this week’s edition of Monday Morning Quarter-Buck, Financial Planner Becky Eason (aka Partridge) discusses how to marry these two concepts.
By: Becky Eason
For many years now it seems that there are non-stop scams going around. Have you ever been a victim of fraud or identity theft? If you have, you’re not alone. If you haven’t been, then hopefully we can help you reduce your chances of having to go through that.
Simplifying will help you with so many aspects of life, including those that you may not have ever imagined. Stress is a very serious condition, often caused by being overwhelmed. I know that for myself that if I see clutter around me I get stressed and frequently ask myself “Where do I even start?” A great way to start simplifying, is to get in the habit of filing away papers/receipts that you know you will need, throwing out papers that you don’t need (but make sure there is no personal information on them), and shredding the papers with personal information that you don’t need.
Doing this will not only help with the overwhelmed feeling but it will also increase your security. For the papers that you need to keep, put them in a secure place, such as a locked filing cabinet. If you have documents that require extra protection you could consider a fire-proof safe, or a safety deposit box at a local financial institution. With having these documents in a secure location you are minimizing your risk for fraud.
Pertaining to documents, please be aware of what you are sending across email. It’s very easy for documents to be intercepted by the wrong party. Do your best to not send anything with your social security number, account numbers, or usernames and passwords. If you do have to send these items, you can use encryption to help keep the information more secure.
Another thing to do to protect yourself from fraud is to change your passwords on a regular basis. It’s so easy to think “I’ll change my password later” but then forget. Maybe you intentionally don’t change your passwords because of the fear and or hassle of forgetting what you changed it to. There are a number of great secure password managers out there such as “LastPass” which allow you to store all of your passwords in a secure vault with just one complex password that you have to remember (and change). If you use a password manager like “LastPass” make sure that your password is very strong, as if someone figures out this password they have access to virtually all of your stuff.
When you take measures to protect your identity it may seem like you are making your life more complicated, but trust me, it’s much easier in the long run to take preventive measures than to need to take legal action. Please be aware of who is asking for your information and why they are asking. If you ever have a suspicion that something doesn’t seem “right” trust your instinct and ask someone you trust. It’s okay to ask why they need it and what they need it for!