Let’s count the ways crooks get personal data

How do crooks get your personal data? You, or someone else, may have provided the information.

It’s not unusual to get asked for the last four digits of your social security number and your mother’s maiden name, so if you get a call and the caller identifies himself as a officer of the bank, you comply.

Giving out information when called is not wise. Don’t use a phone number provided by the caller or click on a web link provided in an e-mail.

Take the time to look up the business number to verify a problem with your account, if there is one.

Personal data can fall into the hands of a co-worker or some con artist may bribe a person that has access to your information. The con artist may find the way to hack into your computer or the computer of a business that has your data.

How careful are you about discarding information that has personal data? Cons can go through garbage.

Credit card companies send out checks hoping you will use them rather than personal checks. Your name is listed. Before discarding these, tear up or shred them.

Placing outgoing mail in a mailbox and setting the red flag in the up position, alerts the mail carrier and can also alert a con artist.

If you were paying a bill, the check inside has your name, address, bank account number, the bank routing number, plus a copy of your signature.

It is much safer to place the mail in a locked mailbox provided by the postal service or deposit the outgoing mail in the nearest post office.

A real treasure for a con artist is finding an income tax return with a check inside.

Hackers can access your home computer and search for the information they need. Some can even plant “ worms” that can take over your computer a nd c au se you r mach i ne to generate messages for those listed in your address book.

Recently a department of the State of Texas had its security compromised, which placed thousands of Texas citizens at risk.

You may lose your purse or wallet. Many people carry all the information they may need from time to time rather than carrying only the data needed that day.

You are urged to leave the other information in a safe place at home.

Burglars may look for your personal data as well as other valuable goods. Are your bills in plain sight? Do you leave your checkbook on the desk? Are your file cabinets lockable?

You should create a safe place in your home to place personal information.

This “secret place” should be shared with family or close friend before an emergency befalls you.

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2011-11-17 digital edition

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