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Twitter: PCMag. A password manager seems like an even better idea when you consider the fact that you should never use the same password for more than one account or service.

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Think about it: If a hacker cracks your password on one website, they suddenly have cracked your password for a dozen more. But remembering the slew of passwords the average person would need to recall to access the many accounts and services most people have these days is no simple feat, unless you have a photographic memory.

In lieu of a password manager, you could follow Danny Heisner's advice at Cranking the Ranking and create your own password algorithm that makes it simple to remember all your passwords without ever using the same one twice. Twitter: cranktherank. Thieves don't always go after credit and debit cards; sometimes, they steal important government-issued identification numbers, such as driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers in attempt to assume another individual's identity.

You might be instructed to cancel the document and obtain a replacement. Or the agency might instead 'flag' your file to prevent an imposter from getting a license in your name," suggests PrivacyRights. It's tempting to keep a written list of passwords, or even a single password written down in a notebook or, worse yet, a sticky note.

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But this is a bad idea, as it makes it extraordinarily easy for someone else to steal your login information and access your accounts without your permission. Hiding it under your keyboard or mouse pad is not much better, as these are common hiding places for passwords. However if you must write something down, jot down a hint or clue that will help jog your memory or store the written password in a secure, locked place," says SANS. By using a different system for creating passwords for different types of websites, such as social networking websites, financial institutions, and other membership sites, you ensure that should a hacker crack one of your algorithms, they won't immediately be able to crack all of your accounts' passwords.

Twitter: BostonGlobe. Faxing can be a convenient way to send information quickly, but it's not possible to ensure that the intended recipient is the person who receives the document on the other end, or that the information isn't visible to someone else in the process of transporting it to another department or individual. It is important that sufficient precautions are taken to ensure that it is received only by its intended recipient," says BCMJ. Twitter: BCMedicalJrnl. Most consumers receive an abundance of mail largely considered junk mail. Credit card statements, bank account statements, notifications regarding other accounts, credit card offers, and more plague the mailboxes of consumers across the U.

While online access to accounts has made printed statements practically unnecessary, many consumers simply toss these items out when they're received. But doing so without first shredding them could put your personal information in the hands of thieves. One of the most common methods used by thieves to steal personal information is dumpster diving, which entails rummaging through trash looking for old bills or other documents that contain personal information," explains Katie Delong, in an article for Fox 6 Now.

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Twitter: FellowesInc. Keeping your computer and mobile devices clean is a good practice to ensure usability, but it's also wise to eliminate old data you no longer need. Why give potential criminals more info than absolutely necessary? It's true that nothing is ever really deleted permanently from a computing device; hackers and technologically savvy criminals and, of course, the FBI are often able to recover information from hard drives if they haven't been properly disposed of.

101 Data Protection Tips: How to Keep Your Passwords, Financial & Personal Information Safe in 12222

Electronic devices, even when no longer in use, often retain confidential personal information that can fall into the wrong hands if disposed of incorrectly," the Better Business Bureau says. When possible, ask cashiers to process your debit card as a credit card transaction. Not all retail stores allow this it results in a small processing fee to be paid by the retailer , but most do.

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It's often simpler just to enter your PIN, but it also makes it easier for thieves to steal all the information they need to make unauthorized purchases using your card. Crooks can do more damage with your PIN, possibly printing a copy of the card and taking money out of an ATM, he says.

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During Target's breach last year, the discount retailer said hackers gained access to customers' PINs. If your bank or credit card company offers this service, sign up to receive an email alert when your card has been used for a transaction. This makes it easy to pinpoint charges you didn't make, and allows you to take rapid action to cancel cards. Not all banks will offer this, but these alerts let you know when a new transaction has been made using your card," says CT Watchdog. Twitter: ctwatchdog. If you have online access to your bank and credit card accounts, it is a good idea to check them regularly, perhaps weekly, for transactions that aren't yours.

Contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately to report a problem. Debit card users in particular should promptly report a lost card or an unauthorized transaction. Twitter: FDICgov. Fraudsters don't always make major purchases with stolen cards. In fact, there have been some otherwise-legitimate companies that have scammed their own customers by charging small amounts to credit and debit cards they believed would go unnoticed by consumers. Ablin says those who pay with credit should be vigilant about tracking their bills. He found that the flower company he used was scamming people for this small amount.

He figures the company believed most people wouldn't notice the relatively small amount. Ablin says. It's an unfortunate reality that a data breach impacting a major corporation and, therefore, hundreds of thousands of its customers, spells opportunity for thieves. If you're interested in credit monitoring and it's not being offered for free by your retailer or bank, do your own independent research to find a reputable service," suggests FDIC. Calling one of the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and asking for a one-call fraud alert is a great way to stay on top of suspicious activity.

The one you contact is required to contact the other two.

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This one-call fraud alert will remain in your credit file for at least 90 days. The fraud alert requires creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or increasing credit limits on your existing accounts. When you place a fraud alert on your credit report, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus upon request," suggests Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. There are hundreds of thousands of online retailers, known as e-commerce vendors, some more credible than others.

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Always opt to shop with a well-known retailer you're familiar with, rather than smaller, unfamiliar sites that could merely be a facade for credit card theft. For instance, many consumer items can be bought just as easily for competitive prices using Amazon. Amazon has reputation and regulations to uphold," according to NENS. Additionally, major online retailers are more likely to offer fraud protection options and the ability to return damaged or defective merchandise.

Twitter: 4NENS. Secura Insurance Companies recommends getting a copy of your credit report annually. The reports should be examined for fraudulent activity. To obtain your free annual credit report, either order online via www. Twitter: SecuraInsurance. Because shopping online is one of the easiest ways to get your credit card number stolen, some experts suggest maintaining a separate, low-balance credit card specifically for online purchases.

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101 Data Protection Tips: How to Keep Your Passwords, Financial & Personal Information Safe in 12222

Some banks and credit card companies even offer temporary card numbers you can use for online purchases or when traveling to minimize the risk if the card is lost or stolen," explains NEA. Twitter: NEADeals. Social networking has become a way of life for many individuals, but sharing too much personal information on your social media profiles can be dangerous.

For instance, many hackers have successfully guessed passwords through trial-and-error methods, using combinations of common information such as children's names, addresses, and other details easily found on users' social media profiles. If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing.