Every day we follow little steps to take care of ourselves and make sure we stay healthy. We brush our teeth twice a day; go to the doctor for our annual check-up; see our hair stylist or barber regularly. We want to look and feel our best each day and for the long term. However, as our lives become more and more digital, we often ignore an important something that needs care as well: our identities. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is a worth a pound of cure” is true for both our physical health and digital lives. We need to manage our identities just as we would other aspects of our physical, financial and emotional health. Identity hygiene refers to ongoing proactive maintenance that individuals, families and organizations take to ensure that their sensitive information remains as safe as possible.
These habits are not only preventative, but take minimal amounts of time and are extremely effective when done regularly. The first step in identity hygiene is understanding that identity theft and fraud are very real problems. In 2017 alone, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in the United States. Since 2012, $112 billion, or $35,600 every minute, has been stolen as a result of identity fraud. Many Americans will become a victim of identity theft soon, if they haven’t already. The effects of identity theft are not just financial in nature. Three-quarters of respondents in an Identity Theft Resource Center survey experienced severe distress over the misuse or attempted misuse of their personal information.
Follow our 7 Part Series on Taking Care of Your Digital Self starting this month with: Part 1: The Importance of Passwords. In the months ahead we’ll feature: Part 2: Credit Reports, Part 3: Account Statements, Part 4: Records & Documents, Part 5: Social Media, Part 6: Cybersecurity, Part 7: Mobile Devices
And in the meantime, it is important to share this information with your family, friends and co-workers and lead by example to reinforce good identity protection habits.
Click through to Part 1: The Importance of Passwords