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Prevent Identity Theft.
You can save the $30-$50 per month (which costs $360-$600 per year) bullshit that comes from ‘credit monitoring’ and other stuff. Its utter crap and is way overkill for the vast majority of people. Only if you’ve seriously got money to burn or if you have a very high net worth, then you can do whatever.

So how does one prevent identity theft? Its quite simple.

-Go paperless, you’ll thank me later.
If any of your credit card companies or banks or anyone offers paperless statements, take them up on it. You really don’t need the paper. In the event you do need an ‘official’ copy for legal purposes then you can request one. Often if you mention its for legal purposes they’ll send it to you at no charge if you ask nicely (it varies but it wouldn’t hurt to ask). And even so, you’re saving them money since they don’t have to send you a paper statement so they should be more then willing to help you out. If not, I’d suggest taking your business elsewhere.

-Don’t be afraid of the internet, just be smart.
This means don’t EVER do any online banking or shopping or anything involving financial transactions or sensitive information (SSN, birthdate, etc) from anything but your laptop or desktop computer. Mobiles don’t have antivirus so you can’t trust them. Yes its convenient, but at what cost? How do you know its really encrypted unless you’re tech-saavy enough to use an SSH VPN tunnel?
Also this means if you’re wireless on your laptop and using a public WiFi hotspot to connect to the internet, please don’t use that to do any financial stuff either.
If you assume that anything and everything is being recorded, ‘secure’ or not, then you’ll be fine.

-Secure isn’t really secure.
Some places only use the bare-minimum 128-bit encryption, while other stores use more modern 256-bit encryption. The higher, the better. Firefox tells you what strength and type of encryption is being used by a website. Check it! Often you’ll see a so-called ‘secure’ order form that isn’t 100% secure, its a page that ‘contains some unecrypted information’. Just leave it, and never look back. Getting a ‘good deal’ isn’t worth the risk.

-Keep track of things
That means keeping track of your purchases and finances very closely. That means using a good firewall and antivirus and making sure your desktop/laptop computer is completely clean of spyware/malware/crapware. That means backing up important data.

Happy Holidays to All!
Be safe and enjoy your shopping, online or offline!


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