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Identity Theft and General Safety Tips

Personally Identifiable Information

  • Keep your passwords varied and change them regularly. Your dog's name and birthday might not be easy to guess, but if it is used for every secure login it only takes one security breach to make you vulnerable on every website.
  • Never reply to emails or texts, or respond to incoming calls requesting personally identifiable information like your birthdate, social security number, or account information. Call the company making the request directly using a publicly listed phone number and ask to speak to a customer service representative. Companies are grateful to answer questions and know when their identities are being used to commit fraud.
  • Keep copies of your credit cards and IDs in a safe location, like a safety deposit box or with a parent or guardian. In the event your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, call the ISU Police to see if the property has been found, then contact your credit card companies to have cards closed and reissued.

Computer Health and Safety

  • Use virus protection software and ad-blockers and keep them up to date.
  • Use the latest versions of your Internet browser and keep Java and Adobe Flash up to date. When updating your software, go directly to the software developer's website.
  • Look out for scareware: pop-ups and software lookalikes that warn you that your computer is infected or files need to be quarantined. If you seem to be getting lots of prompts to update software you believe to be up to date, seek help from an IT specialist to check your computer for viruses and malware.

Networking/Internet Safety

  • Steer clear of emails with attachments or links that you weren't expecting, or that come from someone you don't know.
  • If the website or offer sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • Avoid sending sensitive or secure information over cellular networks or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
  • Be cautious when joining free Wi-Fi offered by businesses that you join the exact network they are offering. Criminals will sometimes create similarly named networks (Starbucks_public instead of Starbucks) and monitor information transmitted while using the fraudulent network.

Smartphone Safety

  • Use password, screen lock, and encryption services offered by your phone's operating system. In the event someone gets a hold of your phone, this will stop or slow the access to your personal data.
  • Research the apps you install and know what permissions you are giving them.