The Privacy Toolbox: 100 Guides and Resources for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Today’s online culture of banking, blogging, social networking and shopping makes it easier than ever for those with nefarious intentions to steal your personal information. Social Security numbers, credit cards and online passwords are all at risk if you don’t keep your personal information secure both online and off. While there is no way to make identity theft a non-issue, there are a number of things that you can do to help ensure that your data is as secure as it possibly can be. Here are 100 places to start researching how to keep your information away from prying eyes.

Articles

Take a moment to read these articles to get some background on identity theft and loss of personal information and learn some ways to prevent it.

  1. Shredding Can Save You From Identity Theft: This article from Yahoo takes you through why you should shred instead of just tossing out documents as well as a list of documents that should always be destroyed.
  2. Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number: This goverment released article helps you to learn just why you should keep your Social Security number private.
  3. Identity Theft Exposed: This article from the AARP talks about the effect identity theft can have on the lives of the victims and the uphill battle it is to get good credit back afterwards.
  4. 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Bank Errors: Whether money is accidentally put in your account or taken out, this article can help you know what to do so your finanances and those of others remain secure.
  5. Major Banks, Telcos Top Identity Theft Chart: This article shows that your information may not be as safe as you think, even with a corporation you think you can trust.
  6. Mitigating Identity Theft: Schneier on Security’s Bruce Schneier dicusses the issues surrounding the increasingly common phenomenon of indentity theft and gives his opinion on the politics and technology that will grow to protect consumers.
  7. Credit Card Fraud Keeps Growing on the Net: While most sites are perfectly secure, there are many that aren’t and are out there to steal your information. This article dicusses the growth of credit card theft on the net and the processes by which theives get your information.
  8. 5 Disposable Web Accounts to Keep Your Identity Safe: One way you can help protect your identity is by not maintaining the same information to steal from transaction to transaction. This article gives disposable alternatives, from email to phone numbers.
  9. Consumers Afraid of Identity Theft Have a New Weapon– A Credit Freeze: Read about a new way you can help protect your credit if you feel you might be at risk for identity theft with this article from The Business Shrink.
  10. Your SS Number is Just a Click Away: Here you can read about just how easy it can be for identity theives to get access to your Social Security number and what you can do to fight it.
  11. Debit Card Thieves Get Around PIN Obstacle: You might think your PIN makes your debit card safe even if it gets stolen, but that’s hardly the case, as this article points out.
  12. 10 Extremely Useful Websites to Stop Big Brother From Snooping on You: Whether it’s the government or someone out to get your information, most people don’t want anyone spying on what they’re doing, no matter how innocuous. This article gives you 10 different sites you can try out to help minimize this risk.
  13. What to Do When They Ask for Your Social Security Number: From time to time there are going to be businesses and places that you work with that will ask for your Social Security number. This article can help you learn how to handle this so your personal information stays private and secure.

Blogs

These bloggers share their opinions and concerns about maintaining personal privacy and keeping identity theives at bay.

  1. The Privacy Blog: This blog is dedicated to addressing current issues in privacy and security. Written by Lance Cottrell, it covers topics like free speech, online privacy, identity theft and email security to help educate readers on topics they should be aware of.
  2. Protect Personal and Financial Privacy: The name says it all, this blog is all about the issues that surround keeping your identity safe, your data secure and your financial and medical information private.
  3. The Politics of Privacy Blog: There are many issues that surround the protection of personal data as well as an individual’s right to keep this kind of data only to themselves. This blog written by political science professor Andreas Busch discusses these issues and how they are dealt with in public policy.
  4. Privacy and Security Law Blog: Want to know what your legal rights are about personal privacy and what laws govern the security of your information? This blog addresses these issues and more, helping you protect your rights and your information.
  5. Ephemeral Law: This blog also addresses some of the legal issues that surround privacy and data security. Read posts about the costs of data exposure and protecting consumer privacy as well as on many other topics.
  6. The Dunning Letter: Written by former junk mailer Jack Dunning, in this blog you’ll find information and opinions on how you can protect your most precious possession: your personal information. Dunning is now an advocate for name and data protection and can provide useful tips on how to keep your name off of junk mail lists.
  7. ID Theft Secrets Blog: This blog is dedicated to helping consumers find the resources and information they need to protect their credit card and personal data from becoming prey to identity fraudsters. Readers will get tips on simple things they can do to avoid becoming victims.
  8. Fight Identity Theft Blog: Here readers will find ways they can actively work to stop identity theft and protect themselves from those with ill intentions. The blog also posts on the latest news, technology and scams to watch out for.
  9. Privacy and Identity Theft Blog: Written by Dave Jevans, this blog posts the latest in information and identity theft. Stories of what happened to others can help you ensure that the same things don’t happen to you.
  10. Anti-Phishing Blog: This blog acts as a resource for Internet users. It lists recent phishing scams so that if you’re presented with them you’ll know what to look out for and what not to fall for.
  11. Mark Nestman: Preserving Your Privacy and More: As the name suggests, this blog focuses on ways that individuals can protect their privacy. Posts on keeping your encrypted data safe and and protecting yourself from identity theft are interspersed with the latest news in privacy politics and law.
  12. Digital Soapbox: For those interested in learning more about keeping their computers and online transactions secure, this blog can help provide some insight. Posts give the blogger’s personal feeling and opinions on security, risk and data protection.

Resources

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or just want to make sure you never are, these resources can be a big help.

  1. Identity Theft Awareness: This site, maintained by fraud and security expert Henry Bagdasarian, gives visitors loads of information on how they can keep their data safe and secure. The site contains articles on credit card fraud, laws, theft prevention, travel security and workplace security, making it an invaluable resource.
  2. Identity Theft Resource Center: This nonprofit organization has set up this site to help consumers who have had their identity stolen get back on their feet and to help those who want to prevent theft to better do so. Visitors to the site will find consumer and victim resources as well as a variety of business solutions.
  3. Call for Action: This international group provides consumers and individuals with a place where they can fight back against identity theft and stolen or sold personal information. The site provides resources on filing a complaint about identity theft as well as how to prevent phishing and other online scams.
  4. Consumer Privacy Guide: Few people realize that the things they do every day may be putting their privacy at risk. This site provides consumers with the resources and information they need to make informed choices about shopping online and things they can do to ensure their privacy and protection.
  5. Privacy Journal: Published by Robert Ellis, this site is one of the oldest publications around that has to do with privacy. Since the 1970s, the journal has been publishing articles on what individuals can to do help keep their personal information private.
  6. Home Computer Security: For many who don’t know a ton about computers, keeping a desktop or laptop secure can be a confusing and sometimes overwhelming problem. This site can help address everything you need to help make sure your computer-based information stays visible only to your eyes.
  7. National Do Not Call Registry: Many people have their identities stolen through phone solicitations that trick them into giving away their personal information. You can help prevent this by putting your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. It will block solicitors from calling you greatly reducing your chances of getting scammed.
  8. OptOutPrescreen: Those pesky credit card offers you recieve in the mail are not only annoying and wasteful, but they’re also a potential goldmine for someone that wants to steal your identity. Sign up with this site to stop these kind of advertisements from coming to your home and putting your security at risk.
  9. Annual Credit Report: By law, you are entitled to recieve one credit report each year. Doing so can not only be a good way to keep an eye on your credit but it can also alert you to any potential indentity theft issues as well. Suspicious activitiy will be easier to spot and take care of with the reports and you can immediately notify the credit bureaus to the fraud.
  10. Federal Trade Commission: If your idenitity is stolen, you’ll not only have quite a mess on your hands, but you’ll also need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to help start rectifying the situtation and making sure that the thief is caught in the act.
  11. How Identity Theft Works: Ever wonder how thieves actually make use of the information they steal? This article from Howstuffworks will take you through each type of theft to help you better understand and combat it.
  12. Identity Theft is a Crime: Resources from the Government: The US government gives those who want to prevent theft of their personal information as well as those who already have been victimized a listing of resources to help them out.

Applications

Take charge of your personal security and privacy with these applications that keep nosy hackers and phishers at bay.

  1. CenturionMail: CenturionMail is a powerful but easy-to-use security program. It works to encrpyt both emails and files on a system to ensure that they remain hidden from prying eyes.
  2. Mail2Web: This program allows users to read their emails from any computer in the world or on their cellphone securely and privately, giving them remote access as well as the security of knowing their information is protected.
  3. BrowserSpy: This program gives users detailed information about what their browser reveals about them, plus it lets users know just what programs and utlities are installed in their browsers so they can determine if they’re truly secure.
  4. Tor: Tor helps stop traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance. The program prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit or from anyone knowing your physical location. It can help you surf and chat with others in a more private manner.
  5. Camera/Shy: This program can make it easy to hide private information right in plain sight. It offers encryption and decryption of steganography, automatic cache and history clearing, and protection against malicious HTML.
  6. SmasheR: Pop-ups can be an annoying feature of browsing the Web and can sometimes result in you clicking on things that might do harm to your computer. SmasheR helps to stop these pop-ups, plus it provides mointoring of 3rd party activity, PC cleaning, and cookie removal.
  7. Skype: Chances are good that if you know much about technology you have heard about Skype. This popular VoIP service not only provides low cost calls to anywhere in the world, but the calls are also encrypted, helping add an additional layer of security to confidential discussions.
  8. SpeakFreely: SpeakFreely is an entirely free VoIP phone that allows users to securely speak to one another over the web. The program is fully encrypted, making it difficult for prying outside ears to eavesdrop on private conversations.
  9. Private Eye: With this program, you can spy on your own computer. It allows users to see the information stored by your browser incuding when you auto-complete forms in the Protected Storage area of your computer. If there is information that you’d rather not have stored on your computer or anywhere else, you can simply remove it.
  10. Encryptionizer: This Windows based progam has been used in banks and hospitals all over the world and can help keep everything from a whole database to a simple DVD of information more secure through careful encryption.
  11. Icon Lock-It: If you’re prone to forgetting to lock your computer before you leave it unattended or just want a little extra privacy on a shared computer you can try out this program. It allows users to create passwords for files, icons, and folders on your computer, keeping personal data extra secure.
  12. SecuriChat: If you need to chat about personal or private topics or just want a little extra security when chatting with your friends and family, you can try out this online messenger. It’s triple layered and requires that both parties have access to an encrypted passcode before initating the chat.
  13. AbsoluteShield File Shredder: Many people may not know, but when you add items to your recycle bin they may not really be getting erased from your computer. This program takes care of that and makes sure that any personal information you wanted taken off your computer gets destroyed completely.
  14. VauletSuite: This multi-platform suite can provide a comprehensive way to secure all the information on your computer and what is going in and coming out. It comes with secure and spam-free email as well as password storage and file encryption.
  15. Anti-Keylog: In these days of spyware, anyone can be watching your computer and you may not even be aware of it. You can help protect yourself, however, with a program like Anti-Keylog. It can help prevent spyware from stealing important personal information like credit card numbers and passwords from programs you might not even know are watching.

Organizations

There are many groups out there that specialize in helping consumers maintain their personal privacy and recover from identity theft. Here are a few you can check out.

  1. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: This nonprofit organization works to help educate citizens about their privacy rights and how they can protect sensitive information about their finances, medical history and personal identity when they’re online or off. Visitors to the site will find a large collection of helpful resources.
  2. Electronic Privacy Information Center: The Internet leaves even the most conscientious privacy protectors at risk of having personal information stolen. After all, the best security can’t keep out hackers that truly want to get your information. This organization can help you learn how to keep your information safe while still protecting your right to free speech and speedy information exchange.
  3. Electronic Frontier Foundation: The EFF is a civil liberties union that works to protect the rights of citizens in the digital world. These include issues of free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights, all of which can have a big impact on your day-to-day online activities.
  4. Privacy International: Privacy International is a watchdog group that aims to protect the privacy and information of individuals from both the government and corporations who might infringe on personal privacy rights. Here you’ll find information on everything from data protection to financial surveillance.
  5. Anti-Phishing Working Group: The Anti-Phishing Working Group is a global law enforcement association focused on eliminating fraud and identity theft that results from phishing, pharming and email spoofing. You will find information on what scams to watch out for as well as resources to report any suspicious email you might receive.
  6. CCGuard: This organization is dedicated to educating consumers on how to protect their credit card information both in the online environment and off. It offers articles on dealing with identity theft, how you can protect your identity when online shopping and what to do if you give your credit card number to a scammer on accident.
  7. Privacy Foundation: This organization deals with issues of consumer and citizen privacy as well as homeland security and medical and identity theft. Visitors to the site will be able to get helpful information and resources on these topics as well as many others.
  8. ScamBusters: This organization can give you a heads up on what scams to look out for as well as useful articles on what you can do to help prevent getting scammed.
  9. Identity Theft Awareness Group: Get facts and resources on identity theft from this prevention-oriented group.
  10. Privacy.org: Get the latest information on privacy issues and news from this organization. Visitors to the site will also find a variety of resources and tools as well.
  11. Identity Theft 911: This organization provides a leadership role for America’s businesses, but it can also provide news and resources on personal issues in identity theft.
  12. Fraud Resource Group: Fight fraud with information and resources distributed by this group.
  13. RipOffReport: Keep your personal information out of the hands of scammers and rip-off artists. This site lists known scams and frauds to help save you loads of time and money.

Tips

These sites give some simple tips for protecting your information.

  1. Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online: These ten tips show how easy it is to both get suckered in by phishers and also to prevent indentity theft. By implementing tips like not using 3rd party information sharing, you can help keep your private information private.
  2. What to Consider When Buying a Paper Shredder: Shredding documents is a must for keeping information safe, but how can you know what shredder will work best for your needs? This article discusses what you need to determine before making your shredder purchase.
  3. 6 Tips to Avoid Scams: Scam artists are everywhere these days. These tips can give you some simple help in avoiding these potential harmful people and keeping your money and information secure.
  4. Tips for Tackling Check Fraud: Many people each year fall victim to check fraud schemes. Here you’ll find some tips that can help keep you from joining these ever-expanding ranks.
  5. Consumer Fraud Prevention Tips: You can make purchases with a little more confidence if you know what to watch out for. These tips will help you to avoid getting scammed when you shop just about anywhere.
  6. 5 Identity Theft Tips for the Holiday Season: With so much going on around holiday time, identity theft can be the last thing on your mind, but you’re at just as much of a risk as any other time of the year. From watching your wallet on a shopping excursion to watching your credit card statements, these tips can help make a hassle free holiday.
  7. Top 10 Indentity Theft Tips for 2008: This up-to-the-minute guide can help you to minimize your risk of identity theft.
  8. Privacy: Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information: The FTC put out these tips to help consumers and citizens keep an eye on all their personal information so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
  9. 12 Tips to Protect Personal Information During Tax Season: Doing your taxes often involves sending large amounts of personal information on the Web or in the mail. You can help keep this information safe by following the advice in these 12 tips.
  10. Tips for Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online: Online shopping can be a convenient way to get things cheaper and faster without the hassle of waiting in lines and driving to the store. These tips can give you some steps in the right direction for making these shopping options more secure.
  11. Phishing Scams! Top 5 Tips to Protect Yourself: Phishing is a growing problem in email and all over the Web. You can avoid falling victim with these tips.
  12. Tips for Securing Private Information: Keep your private information private with these computer security tips.

Guides

Everyone needs a little guidance now and then and you can get some from these helpful how tos and guides on privacy protection.

  1. Your 5-Minute Guide to Protecting Your Identity: Don’t think you have time to implement increased security measures? This article explains how you can up your awareness of scams in just a few minutes and keep thieves from stealing your information.
  2. Online Brokerage Accounts: What You Can Do to Safeguard Your Money and Your Personal Information: This article from the US Securities and Exchange Comission addresses how you can enjoy the ease and profitability of trading online without falling victim to identity theft.
  3. Your Guide to Online Privacy: This lengthy article from PBS gives users some interesting background on the Internet security issue as well as information on what to do to help ensure their privacy stays protected online.
  4. 10-Minute Guide for Beginners to Getting Safe Online: Newbies to computer security or just those who don’t have a clue what they’re doing online can benefit from this quick and easy guide that gives tips on the most important aspects of safeguarding yourself and your data.
  5. How to Keep Your Identity Safe Online: The Internet can be a great place to meet other and find a plethora of information, unfortunately, it’s also a great place for predators to access your personal information. This simple how-to guide will help you learn to protect yourself and keep information theives at bay.
  6. Identity Theft Victims Guide: If you have fallen victim to identity theft, this guide from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse can give you a step by step guide as to what you need to do to get your information back and make sure it doesn’t get stolen again.
  7. The Ultimate Guide to Identity Theft Prevention: There’s no better cure for identity theft than to prevent it from happening in the first place and you can get a head start on that with this guide from Your Credit Advisor. It gives advice on what to watch out for and what to do if you think your identity has be stolen.
  8. How to Pick a Safe Password: A password won’t do much good if it’s so easy anyone can guess it. This how-to can help you learn how to pick a password that will keep your data safe and give you more peace of mind.
  9. How to Know What Documents to Shred and When to Shred Them: Without a doubt you want to keep information theives at bay by shredding confidential documents, but knowing just what you need to shred and when it may be time to toss out old files can be a choice that leaves many unsure. This article can help make the decision process easier.
  10. The College Student’s Guide to Identity Theft: College students often have to fill out loads of forms, many of which contain their Social Security Numbers. This guide can help students learn what they need to do to keep this and other sensitive information safe.
  11. Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Businesses: The FTC has put together this simple guide to help businesses protect their private data as well as that of their customers.
  12. The Beginner’s Guide to Phishing: Phishing is a common way that personal information is stolen. This guide can help protect you from becoming a victim of this sneaky email scam.
  13. Gizmo’s Guide to Securing Your PC: Don’t let your PC be a buffet of free information to theives. Keep it secure by implementing the suggestions from this guide.

Books

Take a visit to your local library or bookstore to pick up these privacy protection titles.

  1. How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life by J.J. Luna: This book addresses the issues of privacy both on and off the Web. The book is filled with real-life stories drawn from the author’s life and the lives of others to help ensure that readers will make more of a commitment to safeguarding their own personal information.
  2. Identity Theft: How to Protect Your Name, Your Credit and Your Vital Information, and What to Do When Someone Hijacks Any of These: This book lays out all the ways your personal information can be stolen and even gets into the nitty gritty details. The author also offers advice on what to do if you find yourself a victim of any of these crimes.
  3. The Wall Street Journal. Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America by Terri Cullen: Cullen is the assistant managing editor and personal finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal Online. In this book, the major types of identity theft are discussed as well as tips to reduce your risk and on what to do if you do get your identity stolen.
  4. Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan by Frank W. Abagnale: If you’ve seen the movie Catch Me If You Can then you know at least part of the life story of Frank Abagnale. A former con artist and identity thief, Abagnale now gives advice on what to do to avoid getting scammed and how to deal with fraud when it arises.
  5. Identity Theft, Inc.: A Wild Ride with the World’s #1 Identity Thief by Glenn Hastings and Richard Marcus: This book is written by a notorious indentity thief who, in an attempt to repent for his crimes, offers up advice on how you can keep indentity thieves at bay.
  6. The Identity Theft Protection Guide by Amanda Welsh: Get advice on minimizing your risk, safeguard your family and recover a stolen identity in this concise guide.
  7. 100% Internet Credit Card Fraud Protected by Vesper and Vesper: If you’re not only worried about your personal sercurity but your business’ as well, this book can help give you advice on professional anti-fraud methods that can help you protect your business from credit card fraud.
  8. Give Me Back My Credit! by Denise Richardson: A victim of identity theft herself, Denise Richardson puts a face on the all-to-common occurance of identity theft.
  9. Your Evil Twin: Behind the Identity Theft Epidemic by Bob Sullivan: Do you have an evil identity lurking around and stealing your good credit? This book discusses this billion dollar crime and the people it affects from all income brackets and walks of life.
  10. Phishing: Cutting the Identity Theft Line by Rachael Lininger and Russell Dean Vines: Written by a phishing security expert, this book takes you through the the technical aspects of phishing and explains how you can prevent these thieves from stealing your identity.

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