ID-theft criminals are ramping up for 2015. Make sure you know what you need to know to reduce your risk of ID theft.

Whether you are a consumer or a small-business owner planning for a great 2015, help yourself by taking charge of your cybersecurity and personal privacy to reduce your risk of becoming an ID-theft victim.

Don't let the near-constant data breach news lull you into "breach fatigue" and therefore be unprepared when ID theft hits you or your business.

To help you reduce your exposure to and the impact of ID theft, here are "Mark's 15 Most Important ID-Theft Need-to-Knows":

Cybersecurity

- Small businesses that ignore the big threat of a data breach are a bigger target for ID-theft criminals.

- Businesses need to understand that a data breach is inevitable. Your business profits, brand, and reputation depend on your data-breach response plan.

- You cannot stop identity theft and data breaches. Defend yourself or your business by increasing ID-theft awareness, ongoing education and taking actions to further protect yourself.

- Create a data-breach response plan to safeguard your business against the insider threat by conducting pre-employment background screening, regularly testing your business and information-security access controls and regularly reviewing your data-retention policy.

- Cyberinsurance may be a good option to help your business minimize today's cyber-risks. Work with your insurance broker to determine your cyber-risks and the best coverage for your organization.

Personal privacy

- Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to privacy settings and social media sites.

- Be more vigilant and hands-on with your personal-privacy settings and be aware that most apps lack basic security defenses and create some sort of a privacy issue.

- Stop ignoring terms and conditions. Read, understand and use privacy settings and be diligent about your social networking. Beware of fake accounts, unless you want to be a partner in your own identity theft.

- Protect your vehicle documents as if they were cash and regularly check for unusual activities after purchasing a vehicle or after it's been in the possession of others.

- You need to read and understand the privacy policies of every organization you have a relationship with to know how your information is protected, saved, analyzed, sold and/or disclosed.

Identity theft

- Assume you will be an ID-theft victim, even as you do more to protect yourself and are vigilant with all of your personal information.

- Synthetic-identity theft and fraud is an emerging threat as well. Check your credit-bureau report quarterly at no cost through annualcreditreport.com.

- When you swipe your credit or debit card, there is always a risk of giving ID-theft criminals what they need to steal your money through what is known as "skimming" – when criminals install electronic devices at locations at which we use cards, such as an ATM, a grocery store or a gas pump.

- While no password is "unbreakable," don't make it easy for ID-theft criminals by using weak passwords, or the same passwords.

- The best defense against phishing is to be aware that it happens every day. Assume you're being "phished" until you verify the source of an unexpected e-mail or call.

 

Mark's most important: ID-theft criminals are ramping up for 2015. Make sure you know what you need to know to reduce your risk of ID theft.

 

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author's permission.

 

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