My Life Locked?
My Life Locked?
I was watching TV the other night and saw this tall, distinguished man standing in front of a box truck telling the viewing audience his personal Social Security number. He definitely had my attention since we’ve become a culture obsessed with identity privacy and emotional voyeurism all at the same time. At the end of his 60 second spiel, I was convinced that my identity would be stolen through the night and someone using my name would apply for 5 mortgages while I slept.
I vowed to call immediately the next morning. Of course by then all those thoughts about identity safety had trickled out of my brain and were replaced with, “Where is that receipt that my husband needed?” and “Do I know where the other pink sock is that my daughter needs?”
Solving those “crises,” I start my drive around town and begin checking off the things on my life to drop off and pick up. While behind the wheel, I turned on the radio. Pulling up to a railroad crossing, I heard Paul Harvey telling me that an identity is stolen every 15 seconds in the US and if I were smart I’d call that tall, distinguished man I saw on TV last night and tell them Paul Harvey sent me.
Now it’s serious. I mean when Paul Harvey tells you to be concerned you should pay attention. I finally made it home where I took the time to sign up for this new miraculous service. Gone are my worries about someone stealing my identity! Gone are my thoughts about some 25 year old construction worker using my 14 year old daughter’s Social Security number to buy a motorcycle! Ahhhhhhhh, sweet relief for only $X00 a year. (Peace of mind does NOT come cheap.)
Mentally patting myself on the back, I told my husband that I had followed through and signed us up. He smiled and affirmed my work. Then he said, “When you have a chance, tell me our user name and password and I’ll add it to our encrypted file.” Encrypted file? So cute. He takes security as seriously as the man with the box truck and Paul Harvey.
Being “oh-so-responsible” I found the information he requested and typed up a near little email for him. I sent him a message with the subject line: LIFELOCK INFO and an attachment with all the details. Finishing that task, I moved on to preparing dinner.
Later than evening, he asked about the information. I said, “Oh, I took care of that already. I sent it to you in an email.”
He paused for what seemed a long moment. Turned his head and slowly said, “You…sent…me…our…security…passwords…in…an…email?”
I began to answer, when it dawned on me. What’s the whole point of online security? To keep it secure. How do you do that? You never, ever send secure information in an unsecured document.
Not receiving an answer yet, he followed it up with, “Did you happen to send the email as encrypted?”
Silly husband. If I knew how to do that, why would I need to sign up for the professional security service? “Uh, no. I…uh…didn’t.” Then nervous, hysterical laughter begins. I laugh and laugh and laugh.
He begins to laugh and says in a Spanish accent, “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccy!” (A reference to the “I Love Lucy” show when Ricky finds out that Lucy has done another hair-brained antic.)
After we both had a very good belly laugh, he immediately gets serious and says, “Why don’t I go look at our security account right now and change all the information?”
I sheepishly look up at him and say, “That’s a great idea. Do you want my help?”
Giving me a hug he says, “Thanks, but I think you’ve done enough for today.”
7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity
1. Purchase a durable shredder for your home. When sorting through your mailing immediately shred all those unnecessary credit card offers and other pieces with personal information on them.
2. Keep your credit card in your hand until you pay at a store or restaurant. Thieves have been known to use their cell phone camera to take a picture of the card number while it is lying on the counter.
3. Write to credit reporting companies and ask for copies of your credit report. Keep careful records of inaccuracies and report them immediately.
4. Review your credit card statements carefully. Look for any unusual amounts or purchase addresses.
5. Use passwords for online accounts that are difficult to guess. Use alpha and numeric combinations for the strongest passwords.
6. If you store your passwords and/or personal information on a computer file, make that file password protected (and remember it!).
7. Take only necessary identification cards, credit cards, insurance cards, etc. with you when you travel. Leave all unneeded ones in a safe deposit box.