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AG Kilmartin urges protection against identity theft

January 29, 2011

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin joined fellow Attorneys General from across the country Friday to promote National Data Privacy Day, which is celebrated on January 28 in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries.
“Today we all need to protect ourselves from things that didn’t exist 20 years ago,” Kilmartin said in a written statement. “Our parents gave letters to a trusted mail carrier but now we send e-mails, texts, tweets and instant messages across something called cyberspace, where they can be intercepted by villains who use keyboards instead of guns. If we are not careful, with a few keystrokes they can steal our hard earned money, or worse, our very identities, and create a parallel ‘you’ that can wreak havoc on your credit or cause you physical danger.”
National Data Privacy Day is a time to re-examine how we use cyberspace and take all reasonable steps to protect the personal information we send there, Kilmartin noted. Millions of Americans are affected by data privacy issues that include sensitive personal information such as medical records accessed by unauthorized parties, identity theft, web-based information brokers selling sensitive personal data, and teens’ private information retrieved on mobile devices and social networking sites.
Personal computers and modern mobile devices can store and transmit huge amounts of personal data including credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers and bank account numbers. We all must take steps to prevent this information from going out when we don’t want it to and to stop people from getting in to see it, the attorney general said.
Among the reasonable steps we should all take is to create unique and difficult to guess passwords for all of our accounts. Don’t let a crook use your dog’s name to hack into your savings account.
It’s always best to use different passwords so that if a crook does find one, it will minimize how much harm they can do. Often sites will lock our accounts and send us an alert if we try to log in multiple times with the wrong password so “tricking” a thief may also help stop him.
Most important, old fashioned common sense is just as valuable in cyberspace as it is in a face to face encounter. You wouldn’t hand a stranger your credit card. Don’t “hand” it out over the internet unless you are sure of the website and its security. Don’t store passwords where they can be seen by visitors or burglars. Don’t respond to emails that make a promise that is too good to be true.
“These tips are important and timely,” said Kilmartin. “But the goal of all crooks is to stay one step ahead of us and in the constantly expanding world we call the internet it is hard to guess where the next threat may come. Common sense and caution will never go out of style.”
To learn more how you can protect your privacy and for more information on National Privacy Data Day 2011, please visit http://dataprivacyday2011.org.

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