How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe from Identity Theft
By Deanna Lynn Sletten

No matter who you are or what kind of work you do, chances are good that you come in contact with more sensitive personal information than you realize. Whether it is your own bank statement or a work related database of Social Security numbers, it is important to protect this vital information from theft and loss. The problem of identity theft is a growing one, and it is important for consumers, companies and government agencies alike to know how to keep sensitive information safe from harm.

One of the most important steps everyone can take is to make sure that all computer equipment you use has the latest and most secure software installed. Keeping your operating system software up to date, installing any needed patches and running a strong virus protection program can help keep the latest viruses and spyware at bay. Since many of these viruses and spyware programs are designed to steal personal information, these computer security measures can do a great deal to keep the personal information you are responsible for secure.

Security concerns for laptop owners can be a bit more complicated, since this computer equipment must be secured and keep safe from physical theft as well. It is important to know where your laptop is at all times, and to avoid storing it in your vehicle. Laptops kept in vehicles are at greater risk of theft. If you must leave your laptop in your car, be sure it is kept out of sight.

Laptop owners may also want to consider using a strong and secure power on password to protect the information contained on their laptops. This power on password will help to render the information contained on the laptop useless to thieves, and keep it safe from prying eyes. If you do assign a power on password, however, be sure to keep it in a safe place, away from the laptop.

Encrypting files which contain personal and sensitive information can provide an extra level of security as well. File level encryption and file passwords can help protect these files from use in the event the laptop is lost or stolen.

Of course the information contained on your computer is not the only information that requires protection. Printed information which contains sensitive personal or business data should be protected as well. If you must carry such information with you, be sure to keep it safe in a locked briefcase, and also be sure to shred any information that is no longer needed. This combination of computer security, physical security and common sense can go a long way toward keeping sensitive personal and business information safe. No matter what kind of job you have or what your personal circumstances, it is important to take stock of the personal information to which you have access, and to take the steps necessary to keep that information secure and protected.