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Five tips to help protect your identity

On Jan. 21, Chris Wang, owner and portfolio manager at Runnymeade Capital Management, posted five steps to help consumers protect themselves on the Huffington Post blog. In a telephone interview on Jan. 22, Wang said, “I wrote the story because protection of their financial information is a rising concern of consumers and targeting consumers is the growing trend of cybercrime.”

Wang’s blog post was directed at consumers affected by the Target data breach. In the post, he cited a study by Javelin Strategy. “One in four data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud in 2012. This isn't good news for those affected by the holiday data breaches. Therefore, it is imperative to be proactive to protect yourself. You don't want to spend hours, weeks or even months trying to resolve problems.”

It’s been more than a month since the revelation that information for more than 40 million consumers had been stolen. This length of time since the breach might create a false sense of security, but be aware that the cards could be starting to surface just now. In fact, Texas police arrested two men and seized more than 100 fake credit cards with numbers tied to the Target data breach earlier this week.

With the Texas arrests, the lesson for consumers is that time is no indicator of security, a point brought up by Wang in the telephone interview. He said, “With cyber crime you don’t know when your information will be used. It’s best to take steps to protect yourself.”

Here are Wang’s five tips to help protect your security.

1. If you believe your debit card was exposed then immediately request a new card. Target will likely be held liable for unauthorized usage in this situation, but why take any chance here? It isn't worth the hassle or worry.

2. Get a free fraud alert on your credit report. This is an easy and free service provided by all the major credit agencies. This will prevent others from opening credit cards in your name.

3. Get free credit monitoring and identity theft protection courtesy of Target. If you register before April 30th, Target is offering free protection for one year with ProtectMyId which is owned by Experian. Everyone should take Target up on this free offer. To sign up, visit Target, ProtectMyId or simply go here.

4. Check and monitor your statements. Check your credit card and bank statements for any fraudulent activity. Look for any suspicious purchases and any activity that you didn't authorize.

5. Don't over share on social networks. First and foremost, don't post your birthday or hometown online. At the very least, tighten your privacy settings. Keep in mind that social network users have a higher incidence rate for identity theft than the national average.

More information

Learn more about Chris Wang at runnymede.com/about/team/chris.

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