TECHNOLOGY TO DREAD
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft” by attorney Mari Frank is a far, far greater horror story than Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein.” Given today’s technology crooks can invade your private records as easily as sneezing. Did you know there’s research software that can deduce your social security number with as little information as your birth date and your birth state?
Here’s the moment when you should pause to think about your Facebook information. All those Happy Birthday wishes could lead to a birthday hangover. Frank’s advice is to keep your age to yourself – too late for me – and set your Facebook settings so that friends cannot share your information without your consent.
Maybe you’re savvy and know these cautions already, but are you alert to the danger of smart phones? They’re too smart for your own good. When you download apps you might also be downloading spyware that captures your information. The trap is in your keystrokes. Free games for smart phones are a favorite with thieves because these same devices make shopping and banking so convenient. appWatchdog is a place where you can check an app’s safety. Apple provides some subscribers’ protection but Android users beware. Avoid clicking on pop-ups with free apps. That’s Frank’s advice.
Here’s additional advice if you use WiFi. The general rule is: a network that doesn’t require a password isn’t encrypted. Nikki Junker, a social media coordinator at theIdentity Theft Resource Center in San Diego advises:
“If you must log on, don’t switch over to WiFi capability. Instead, use your cell phone’s built-in 3G or 4G network. (“Outsmart Identity Thieves” by Daisy Chain, “Woman’s Day,” May, 2012)
If I sound like I know what I’m talking about, I don’t. I’m not deeply into the 21stCentury. But you go-go folks might find these references helpful.