When you think of identity theft, data breaches and credit card fraud, you think of online security risks. These risks exist offline as well. In this era of mass virtual information, more options and locations are available to share and view information than ever before. Your personal information and data are at risk even if you are not actively using the Internet.
Here are a few security measures you can take offline to guard your privacy:
- Be aware of potential physical vulnerabilities that could make it easy for someone to access your devices or paper records. Limit the amount of personally identifiable information stored on your devices or in print form. Watch out for “shoulder surfers” when you are accessing sensitive records. Change your password for your devices and accounts often and choose strong passphrases that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- Do not share, unless necessary, your Social Security number, address, phone number, or other personal information with companies, or others. This information may be used to steal your identity, violate your privacy or subject you to increased marketing spam.
- Always keep your important documents (e.g., insurance cards, passport, driver’s license) in a safe place and out of view.
- Shred banks statements, envelopes with addresses and documents with sensitive information when they are no longer needed.
- Consider contacting the three major credit bureaus (EquiFax, Experian and TransUnion) and request that they do not share your personal information for marketing purposes. This will keep much of the influx of promotional offers out of your mailbox and reduce the chance of those messages from being intercepted by dumpster divers who may search through your trash.
- Think about setting up at least one alternate mailing address. This could be a post office box or a UPS mailbox. This way you don’t have to share your permanent or real address when you transact business online.
- Arm yourself with more security knowledge by watching brief SANS Securing the Human videos.
Criminals and other wrongdoers are always seeking opportunities to take advantage of any lapse in security. Be safe and remember, your privacy will not guard itself.