It is impossible to avoid using some form of technology to interact in today’s world. As individuals, not just as state employees, we should all be aware of the risks of electronic transactions and potential fraud against an individual’s identity. Here are just a few tips to help manage personal information:
- Before revealing personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others.
- Note billing cycles. Follow up if bills do not arrive on time.
- Guard your mail from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from mailbox. Request a vacation hold when necessary.
- Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Do not keep the passwords in your wallet or with your cards.
- Minimize the identification information and the cards carried. Do not carry your social security card with your driver’s license and credit cards. Keep it in a secure place.
- Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know the party.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place. Avoid community trash or recycling bins to dispose of items containing personal information. Keep personal information in a secure place at home. Determine if your personal information at work is secure.
- Give your social security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every year (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union).
Note that many emails, faxes, or contacts from vendors seeking business opportunities with you individually are not always legitimate and may be an attempt to obtain personal information. Do not respond to such queries unless you know the contact, and do so on your own time and with your own resources. Further, when responding to such queries, remember the tips above – do not give out personal information unless you know the contact.