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Proactive Steps to Protect Your Identity

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has produced a Web site named, that provides information on protecting your identity from theft, and also tips on steps to take if you believe your identity has been stolen.

The site does offer some very good information, but I assume it’s no coincidence that it went up very quickly after it was discovered there was a massive breach of security at the Comptroller’s office, and, to quote the Dallas Morning News, “Social Security numbers and other personal information for 3.5 million people were inadvertently disclosed on a publicly accessible state computer server for a year or longer, Comptroller Susan Combs revealed.”

Regardless of the reason for the site, here is some helpful information from it:

Proactive Steps to Protect Your Identity

It’s important to protect your personal information, and to take certain steps quickly to minimize the potential damage from identity theft if your information is accidentally disclosed or deliberately stolen.

1. Prevent Identity Theft

  • Protect yourself by regularly checking your credit score to make sure there isn’t any unusual banking or credit activity reported in your name. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. To order your free credit reports, visit or call toll-free 877-322-8228.
  • Place a 90-day “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, and review those reports carefully. (Notifying one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies is sufficient.)
  • Learn more ways to deter, detect or defend current identity theft attacks at the Texas Attorney General’s Texas Fights ID Theft website and the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft site.

2. Protect Your Information Online

  • Don’t send personal information in e-mail or instant messages (IM). It is too easy for someone to intercept and read your information. Remember, it is out of your control once you send it.
  • Limit personal information you post on the Web and restrict who can access it. Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting with friends, but don’t post anything — like your birthday or full name — that could be used to steal your identity.
  • Unless you know and trust the sender, don’t open files, download programs or click links in e-mails or IM.
    Phishing scams often use these techniques to try to steal your identity.
  • Dedicate one credit card solely for online purchases. Monitor your statements for any suspicious activity.
  • Keep your Web browser updated to ensure you have the latest security features installed. Like any other software, Web browsers need to be kept up-to-date to protect against security vulnerabilities. They are also equipped with encryption capabilities that help keep your data safe as it travels the Internet. Check the online help feature or get more information about security features on the manufacturer’s Web site.
  • Avoid storing sensitive information like credit card numbers or your Social Security number on your computer. If your computer is compromised, you’ll be less exposed.
  • Before disposing of an old computer, use a utility program to “wipe” your hard drive. Deleting files isn’t enough to ensure all the sensitive information on your old hard drive stays safe. If you need help, there are services that will do this for you.
  • Download, install and update firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware security software regularly. This will help protect your computer from intruders looking for your personal information.
  • Be smart about your passwords. Use strong passwords that include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t check the “Remember Me” box on a login screen. That allows the site to save your password. And remember to log off when you leave a secured site. This will prevent unauthorized users from getting into your accounts.

3. Protect Your Personal Information

  • Shred all financial documents and credit applications to keep your personal information safe from dumpster divers.
  • Memorize your passwords, Social Security number and other account numbers. If you write them down they can be seen or stolen.
  • Limit the number of credit cards or identification cards you carry. Never carry your Social Security card with you.
  • Pick up new checks from your bank. Checks are easily stolen if they are sent to your home mailbox.
  • Use secured mailboxes, such as those at a post office, when mailing checks or letters. Try to pick up your mail from your mailbox as soon as possible and if you are going to be away, arrange to have your mail picked up or set up a delivery hold with the U.S. Postal Service.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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