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Protect your privacy NOW – Simple security advice that could save you time and money

November 16th, 2005 by Patrick Elliott

By Patrick Elliott

Yesterday for the third time this year I was asked to help someone (this time a good friend of mine) who had had some aspect of their identity stolen. My friend had her eBay account password stolen, and her account was being used to sell a lot of 40 cellphones for about USD $600. eBay noticed this (along with several password change requests) and cancelled the auction and red-flagged her account. We were able to obtain the IP address of the user who had stolen her password, an AOL user, and I sent several emails to the AOL Network Operations Center to help trace the criminal.

So you may ask yourself, why should I be concerned? Identity Theft, or esentially someone using some aspect of you without your permission to do so, is becoming more and more commonplace. So, below are a few simple steps you can take to help avoid it.

(1) Use different strong passwords for different sites. For example ilovedogs isn’t a strong password, but IlOv3d0GS would be much, much more secure. REMEMBER — use different strong passwords for different sites

(2) NEVER EVER use your email, banking, eBay, PayPal, or other “secure” password for sites such as forums or blogs, or even some ordering sites. You have NO WAY of knowing how secure that site’s password database is.

(3) Change passwords often, every 90 days or less should be a good schedule

(4) Finally, if you ever think a password has been compromized, IMMEDIATELY change all passwords and contact a local IT expert and proper authorities

While I hope none of you ever have Identity Theft happen to you, if it does, some of the sites below (U.S. Governement sites but will also be useful to those of you worldwide) will be of help:

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