Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer recently provided tips to aid individuals to protect themselves from identity theft:

  • Shred all documents containing personal, financial or medical information before you throw them out.
  • Be cautious using debit cards. Don’t use at gas pumps or for shopping online.
  • Don’t respond to e-mails, calls or texts seeking sensitive information. Legitimate companies don’t seek customers’ information this way.
  • Create strong passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters, and use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Lock your mailbox. Stolen mail is a leading cause of identity theft.
  • Don’t keep your license, title and registration in your glove compartment.

While the list is short, it contains some very timely and practical tips. Similar advice would be valuable for companies to prevent hacking and would look like this –

  • Make sure your firewalls, anti-spam, anti-piracy and all other software is updated regularly and on a timely basis.
  • Regularly train employees so they are aware of the types of electronic messages which will likely lead to unauthorized access to your system.
  • Be cautious about electronic requests to wire transfer funds. Are they properly authorized and validated to be from the party who seems to have sent them?
  • Regularly train employees on how to respond to e-mails, calls and other inquiries seeking sensitive company or customer information.
  • Require system users to create strong passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters; require the use of different credentials for different accounts.
  • Require vendors and others with access to your system to have a level of security of their own systems which is compatible with your requirements.
  • Update your contracts to hold outsider users liable if they cause your system issues/failures due to their own ineptitude.