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May Contain: Gold Visa and Mastercard credit cards that have fallen victim to identity theft.

Are You Safe from Identity Theft?

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Ahhhh, the holidays are coming up. Time with family and friends, great food, nothing could interrupt the good times, right? Maybe. Last year I was at the mall doing some last minute shopping and someone had an RFID scanner in the crowd so they picked up my debit card info and wiped my checking account out. Not a fun way to spend the holidays especially without identity theft protection.

Recently, a co-worker had to take a few days off because her husband’s identity was stolen. He woke up one morning and was checking on their finances before going to work and noticed several thousand dollars missing from all of their accounts. Needless to say, it took quite a bit of time to get things back on track. From meeting with the bank to fill out paperwork to having to wait for new cards so they could set up new payment methods with their subscription services, any time this happens, it takes up quite a bit of time.

Following that incident, the Equifax data breach was in the news. If it can happen to a company that large, it can happen to any of them. “I’m safe because my bank monitors things for me.” That may be true for your bank accounts, but who is monitoring your driver’s license number? Your email addresses? Your passport number?

What is a service like that worth?

There are several companies out there who offer full identity theft protection but how do you know which one is right for you and your family?

After doing some extensive research, we recommend ID Shield to offer identity theft protection for $9.99/month for a single person or $19.95/month for a family plan. This covers everything that needs to be monitored. Best of all, it’s backed by Kroll. Kroll is the company that all the major insurance companies use to back their claims. Setup is a breeze and they start monitoring everything as soon as you enter the information on the site.

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May Contain: Person typing on grey Apple Laptop sitting on table top.

Get a Password Manager

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Why would anyone need a password manager? Everyone knows someone or some people who have had their email or social media accounts hacked. It may seem trivial and a slight burden; suddenly there are random posts being made by a friend on Facebook, someone lets them know, they reset their password, problem solved. Right? Maybe…

How many of you use the same password for just about everything? Say someone figures out your Facebook password which is also your email password. Do you have any sensitive information in your Inbox? Is that same password the one you use for your bank’s website? See where I’m going here?

It happened to my Netflix account earlier this year. I still had access and could watch movies but there was an unrecognized name on the account. When I tried to log in to give them the boot, I couldn’t log in – they had changed my password. In about 10 minutes it was resolved. But what if it were my Amazon Prime account and they decided to rent a bunch of movies instead?

How Strong Is Your Password?

Do you think you have a strong password? Find out how long it would take a computer to figure out your password using this free online tool. The password I used to use back in the day would have taken 41 minutes. The one I use today would take 3,000 years to crack.

Password Manager

Ideally, we all set up insanely difficult passwords for everything, careful not to use the same one more than once. But how would we even remember them all? That’s where a good password manager tool comes into play. You let the software generate and store the passwords and all you have to do is remember one password (that you set) to log into the software.

I’ve been using Dashlane for about six months now. After their free trial, I purchased their 5-year plan for $149 because I knew it was a tool that I would rely on. They have a free version that allows you to store passwords on one device but that doesn’t work for me since I have two laptops and a SmartPhone that I use all the time.

Dashlane installed on my laptops and as an app on my phone. I log into it and can see all of my passwords and any additional information I want to store (account ID’s, security question answers, etc.). It’s a breeze to use and most browsers have a Dashlane add-on that will automatically log you into a website if it recognizes the site/login area. This isn’t 100% perfect but a lot of it has to do with the websites themselves and not so much the Dashlane tool.

The coolest part? Once I set up all my passwords, Dashlane let me know which ones sucked and needed to be changed. All I had to do was review the list and say “yes, change these passwords” and it changed them for me. I’m talking like 10-15 passwords to different websites. All changed to something super complex that I don’t have to remember anymore.

If you do come across a site that Dashlane isn’t logging into (I run across this on my mobile phone more than laptop), all you have to do is hit the Dashlane app, copy the password, and paste it in. It’s an extra step but once you’re logged into most of your apps, the phone keeps you logged in. Dashlane combined with a fingerprint unlock feature on a phone and you’re pretty protected!

Try Dashlane for Free

Dashlane is free for a single device so what do you have to lose? You could lose a lot if you don’t tighten your password situation up a bit!

Conclusion

We can’t be too safe with our data anymore. Hackers can access your computer to break the law, leaving you in potential legal trouble. Get a password manager to make your accounts more difficult for someone to access. And spend the $10/month on identity theft protection so you have peace of mind knowing your information is being monitored 24/7.

Read our article on identity theft protection here.

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