Many people don't understand how easy it is to steal personal information using social media information. Today, when our phones and tablets have become the equivalent of a wallet, diary and address book all rolled into one, one must understand how much valuable information ends up in one hand if a mobile device is stolen.
Scammers are very smart and can quickly scroll through a list of phones to identify numbers that are clearly not phone numbers, such as PIN codes and payment card numbers. They can also examine the contents of the diary for clues about names, passwords used, and can even figure out bank and credit card accounts - through app data stored on the smartphone.
1. Check your billing statement regularly to see charges for purchases you didn't make. Fraudsters don't always reset your account in one go. Sometimes they apply small automatic charges to your account so that you don't notice them among your regular expenses.
2. Shred or shred unwanted personal correspondence and invoices before tossing them in the bin. If you change your place of residence, notify the organizations that send you bills of the new address so that outsiders do not read your personal mail.
3. Keep your PINs safe, and make sure they're more complex than just 0000 or 1234. Don't use your year of birth for your PIN. Do not carry a piece of paper with a code in your wallet, and even more so do not write it on a card. Never share it with anyone, under any circumstances.
4. Check your bank statements and credit card charges to make sure that only your expenses are shown, and not transfers to accounts you do not know.
5. Be careful what you carry in your purse or wallet. Credit card receipts, payrolls, driver's license, bank statement, utility bill all reveal a lot of information about you and may just be a scammer's dream.
6. If you are using online banking, always log out of websites using the "sign out" button, and do not just close the window.
7. Never store your PIN on a smartphone, tablet, or handheld device and make sure these devices are themselves PIN protected.
8. Erase all information on your old phone before selling it or giving it to someone.
9. If you are throwing away an old computer or other electronic device that stores data, make sure you delete the information from your hard drive and format it. Better yet, physically destroy the hard drive with a hammer or drill.
10. Make sure your computer is well protected from viruses. Ideally, the antivirus should be updated hourly and have a firewall enabled.