Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tips for preventing identity theft - Digital Hygiene: Part 5

By Don Gardner

This is the fifth in a series of articles by Don Gardner, Clearwater County Emergency Management Coordinator, about protecting your digital identity.

Wireless theft

Your credit card information could be stolen just by walking by someone in a store or a mall that has possession of an RFID scanner. An RFID tag is located in credit cards that are noted by a radio signal symbol on the back of the card. If you have this radio signal on the back of your credit card, you need to take some precautionary measures.

The RFID tag includes a tiny microchip that works with an antenna sending out a radio signal with your credit card information. While it makes it easier for customers during checkout, it also makes stealing easier for committing fraud.

How can you protect yourself against wireless identity theft?

Leave the RFID credit cards at home. Only use these cards for only online purchases, and have another credit card without the RFID tag for outside purchases, or simply use cash.

You could wrap the RFID cards in aluminum foil before putting them in your wallet and it would block the signal, but it’s not a great idea. Or you could use a protective sleeve to help block RFID scanners from reading your card.

If a separate protective shield is not desired, consider a special wallet, such as DataSafe wallet. These wallets are manufactured with materials that have been approved by the Government Services Administration to block RFID transactions.

Monitoring credit card statements on a regular basis for errors or unknown charges can help detect purchases you did not make. Credit card fraud and identity theft can occur even if precautions are taken, however; monitoring statements regularly can help mitigate this risk.

Helpful sites

There are a host of tools, sites, and practices that can improve your chances of avoiding catching that digital virus or risking your private information. Below is a list of links that is by no means inclusive. Just remember, practicing good hygiene in your digital life will help ensure your offline activities aren’t interrupted. 

Tor - Anonymous browsing on the Internet

Tails - Bootable operating system with lots of privacy and security tools baked in

Guardian Project - Mobile security tools

TrueCrypt - Enryption of your data at rest

Avast - Anti-virus software

Tactical Technology - Has lots of resources for good digital hygiene for activists

Portable Apps - Easy-to-use bootable apps

Google 2-Factor Authentication - Increases email security

RedPhone - Encrypts mobile calls

TextSecure - Encrypts text messages

Facebook Privacy Settings - Change your Facebook Settings

Increase the length and complexity of your passwords and use something like KeyPass for password management

Next week I will conclude this series, by providing tips to protect your information while traveling, and by describing how to report identity theft.

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