Shredded paper with words Identity Theft
Written by Ebenezer Iledun, Information Security

Identity theft is bad for your health. Learn how to avoid it with these tips from Information Security.

This monthly story series from Information Security aims to build awareness of existing cyber security threats and provides tips on how you can avoid them. This month learn how to protect yourself fromidentity theft.

If you’ve ever known someone who’s had to deal with the stress of identity theft, you know it’s something you hope you’ll never have to go through. As people working in health care we can appreciate how this kind of stress could take a toll on our mental and even physical well-being and, as most things related to our health, prevention is key.

Everyone is a potential target of identity theft. Here are some examples of how criminals can access your personal information:

  • Shoulder surfing – watching you while you enter passwords or personal information into a computer, electronic device or ATM machine.
  • Stealing a wallet or purse containing personal information.
  • Rummaging through trash or recycling bins for personal information.
  • Obtaining your personal information through theft, bribing or conning.

Avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Here are six tips for good cyber security hygiene:

  1. When providing personal information, ask how it will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be safeguarded.
  2. Be aware of who is around when using your computer, mobile phone, or bank/credit cards at a point-of-sale machines and the ATM.
  3. Shred your reciepts. Don't leave them at stores, gas pumps, bank machines or in trash cans. 
  4. Memorize your passwords and PINs. Don’t write them down.
  5. Look for “https” or a closed lock symbol in the address bar when conducting online transactions.
  6. Do not reply to spam or phishing (fake) emails – delete them.

It’s also important to take care and use caution when it comes to pateint and client information. You can do this by:

  • Keeping a clean desk at all times - put away and lock up sensitive information. 
  • Picking up your print jobs right away - don't leave printouts with personal or sensitive patient information in the tray.
  • Keeping your computer locked when you are away from your desk.

If you or someone you know becomes a victim of identity theft:

Each month in The Beat we will explore different cyber security threats and provide tips for avoiding them. Up next: password best practices. Missed our last article on phishing? Find it hereLet us know if this article was helpful – take our poll.

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