Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Be Safe When It Comes to Your Info

We got an interesting letter from our health care provider this weekend. Several hard drives with personal information went missing. Our records were among them. While our Social Security information wasn't in there, our names, addresses and medical records were.

Since then, I've been thinking a lot about how to be safe when it comes to your info. We want to trust the companies we give our information to, but sometimes things happen. The company who had the hard drives were not my actual health care provider, but a major company who holds documents for lots of different companies (You'd know the name right away if I told you, but I have no desire to bad mouth them.)

So how do you protect your info? Well, the best way is to give out as little as possible.

Remember my post about giving out your email? If you have one email for all the deals, it won't matter as much if that email address gets shared "accidentally" to the spam companies or if it gets stolen. It won't have a lot of personal information there.

Also, when you fill out a form online, only fill out as much information as required. A lot of companies will ask for name, address and email but they only need your name and email. If so, don't give your address. The less you give information you fill out, the less is kept on someone's database that could be stolen.

While this is great information (and can protect a lot of your info), what about when you have situations like we do?

Well, there isn't anything I can do about the missing info, I can protect my family by watching all of our credit reports. Our health insurance is offering free monitoring for two years, which we'll take, especially for the kids.

You can check your credit as well. Congress passed a law (many years ago) that allows you to get one free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus. Annual Credit Report is a completely free site that will provide you a copy of each. The best way to keep an eye on your credit is to check one different report every 4 months. You'll have protection all year and not have to pay a fee.

Want to know your credit score? Check out Credit Karma for a free credit score (you have ads and "suggestions", which is how the site can give you a free credit score).

Anymore, one of the biggest ways you can protect your family is by protecting their personal information. By following these couple steps, you'll keep you and your family's information safe.


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