Personal information protection starts with your own actions, because once this information (our credit and bank accounts, educational records, employment records, medical records, contact information, and ID's such as Social Security number, driver's license and passport) is in the hands of others, you have little to no means of controlling it.
It is your responsibility to know what others such as your school, place of employment, doctor's office, and bank are doing to protect your information.
Some of the common sense things you can do to keep your information private and out of the hands of unauthorized individuals:
- create strong passwords for online accounts
- shop safe on the Internet using secure online payment services
- stay aware of the risks of using the Internet, email and social engineering tactics (such as phishing.)
Many businesses claim they have products or services that (for a fee) can protect you from identity theft. Be sceptical of these claims, because it's impossible to be completely safe; all we can do is minimize the risk. You can use various methods on your own, for free, including credit monitoring, fraud alerts and credit freeze.
If you want more detailed information about credit reports, fraud alerts and other issues related to disclosure of personal information, the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration have websites that provide information on steps you can take to address the threat of identity theft: www.consumer.gov and www.ssa.gov.
You can also email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.