Your Co-Worker Could Be an Identity Thief – 4 Tips for Protecting Yourself

Photo (cc) by Don Hankins

In an age when military secrets can be downloaded like Lady Gaga singles and your credit card info can get swiped while you play video games, it’s no wonder people are worried about protecting their personal information. Identity theft has been the No. 1 consumer complaint received by the FTC for more than a decade.

One in 5 Americans would ditch a company if it lost their data, according to the international “Data Breach Battle” study by Sailpoint, an IT company focused on protecting identities – and 10 percent would tell their friends and family to abandon that business.

But even though people are worried about it happening to them, nearly the same number of Americans said they would steal data from their employer, given the chance. Even more outrageous, almost a quarter of British citizens surveyed said they would sell that info for profit! (Only 5 percent of Americans would – or at least admit it.)

These stats underscore the point that you shouldn’t rely solely on businesses to protect your info. Consumers have to do everything they can too. Here are a few ways to protect yourself…

  1. Common sense. I’ve had co-workers who share computers and constantly leave their Facebook accounts logged in – then they prank each other by posting phony messages and changing relationship statuses. While this is relatively benign, they complain that they’ve been “hacked” by each other. But it’s not hacking if you’re too dumb to log out. Closing the browser window is rarely enough to protect your info. There’s a “log out” button for a reason, so use it.
  2. Use encrypted sites and Wi-Fi. At the start of a website address, you usually see “http” followed by a colon and two forward slashes. Ideally, you want to see “https,” which is a secure version of HyperText Transfer Protocol. Financial sites often use this, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer it, but not by default – you must enable it through settings. (The links explain how.) This is particularly important when you’re browsing on a public Wi-Fi network, like at a coffee shop, because they’re more susceptible to hacker snooping. If your home network is open, learn how to secure a wireless network. OnGuardOnline.gov has more info on the dangers of public Wi-Fi.
  3. Make complex passwords. Don’t use just one password for everything. If someone guesses it, or if you leave it lying around, they can access all your accounts. This also means you shouldn’t take advantage of using your Google or Facebook login instead of registering on various sites. It’s inconvenient, but safer. The best passwords are long, not real words, and contain special characters or nonconsecutive numbers.
  4. Update your software regularly. Hackers are always finding new security vulnerabilities and loopholes in popular programs, and developers are always patching them up. Make sure you check for software updates on a weekly basis, a process that can usually be automated through settings. Secunia has a tool that tells PC users when software gets outdated.

Want to learn more? Check out Top 10 Tips for Free Identity Theft Protection and How to Protect Your Smartphone from ID Thieves.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire
11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire

Health and happiness in retirement rely on some key factors.

14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use
14 Things We Buy and Then Almost Never Use

Save your money. These items seem alluring but they often end up as coat racks and dust magnets.

Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?
Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?

A reader says the government is penalizing him for having a pension. Is he right?

This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row
This Online Bank Rated Best for Second Year in a Row

This bank pays interest without charging monthly fees, but there’s a downside.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

6 Great Gifts on Sale at Amazon Today
6 Great Gifts on Sale at Amazon Today

As the holidays near, we’re highlighting some of the best deals on gift ideas.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

This Deal Offers 85 Channels of Live TV for $10 Per Month
This Deal Offers 85 Channels of Live TV for $10 Per Month

You can start the new year off with some cheap entertainment — while the offer lasts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

The Worst Day of the Year to Buy a Used Car
The Worst Day of the Year to Buy a Used Car

If you need a new set of wheels, avoid shopping on this day.

7 Stores That Match — or Beat — Amazon Prices
7 Stores That Match — or Beat — Amazon Prices

These retailers offer some of the most consumer-friendly price-match policies anywhere.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.