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Cybersecurity Tips

You may not think you have anything yet worth stealing, but one of the most valuable thing you have never cost you a penny—your name. Protecting your good name is important as you start to build your life as an adult on your own. Don't let casual practices with your personal information jeopardize it.

Protect your social security number online.

Many organizations take the lazy way to create a unique identifier for you during sign ups and enrollments. They simply ask you for your social security number. But aside from specific government programs and financial institutions or transactions, you don't have to give your social security number out to identify yourself. If someone asks you for it, ask why? Can they use something else to validate your identity? Fill in 123-456-7890 or 999-999-9999 on job applications over the web. You don't have to supply your real number unless they are offering you the job.

Check your social networking profiles.

Are you giving away too much information? Do you talk about your pet? Your mother's family? Your high school? If yes, you've given away the answers to three of the most popular security questions people tend to use—mother's maiden name, pet's name, high school mascot. Combined with your name and some other posted tidbits, fraudulently recreating you has gotten pretty easy. Tighten up your security settings and be more vague with your posts. Remember that most victims of identity fraud know the perpetrator.

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For more tips on protecting your online information, visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.