InfoSec Blog - Don’t Be Fooled! Protect Yourself and Your Identity


April 3, 2017

According to the US Department of Justice, more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. EDUCAUSE research shows that 21 percent of respondents to the annual ECAR student study have had an online account hacked, and 14 percent have had a computer, tablet, or smartphone stolen. Online fraud is an ongoing risk. The following tips can help you prevent identity theft.

  • Read your credit card, bank, and pay statements carefully each month. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions. Remember also to review recurring bill charges and other important personal account information.

  • Review your health insurance plan statements and claims. Look for unusual or unexpected transactions.

  • Shred it! Shred any documents with personal, financial, or medical information before you throw them away.

  • Review your credit report every year. You can request a credit report.

  • If a request for your personal info doesn’t feel right, do not feel obligated to respond! Legitimate companies won’t ask for personal information such as your social security number, password, or account number in a pop-up ad, e-mail, text, or unsolicited phone call.

  • Limit the personal information you share on social media. Also, check your privacy settings every time you update an application or operating system (or at least every few months).

  • Put a password on it. Protect your online accounts and mobile devices with strong, unique passwords or passphrases.

  • Limit use of public Wi-Fi. Be careful when using free Wi-Fi, which may not be secure. Consider waiting to access online banking information or other sensitive accounts until you are at home.

  • Secure your devices. Encrypt your hard drive, use a VPN, and ensure that your systems, apps, antivirus software, and plug-ins are up-to-date.


If you become a victim of identity theft:

  • Contact the local police department to file a police report. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report in a safe place.

  • Flag your credit reports by contacting the fraud departments of one of the major credit bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. Both offer 24/7 monitoring of your credit information and alerts you to key changes to your credit profile, helping you to detect and protect against potential fraud.

  • Review the resources available from the RCMP on identity theft.

  • Review the resources available at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre


Source:  Educause Security Awareness (updated with Canadian content)