Book Report: 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age: New Financial Threats You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them (2nd Edition)

When I was in school I hated to do book reports – what I found interesting was never what the teacher found interesting. After reading 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age: New Financial Threats You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them (2nd Edition)I think you’ll find a lot of good and interesting material as I did. The book is written by Steve Weisman who is an experienced attorney and journalist. This book is well written and the author speaks with authority.

Let me begin by saying that the book reinforces ideas I’ve written about before here and in Learning Tree Course 468, System and Network Security Introduction. He goes far further, though. I learned a lot from this book and I want to share a few of those things with you.

The first chapter of the book talks about what identity theft is, some ways it’s committed and some ways to protect yourself (the latter is the focus of chapter two). The examples are real and in some cases a bit frightening. The countermeasures he gives are not only great advice but practical and not outrageously difficult or burdensome.

One story he relates in the second chapter is of a man who had is credit card information stolen by someone using a cell phone camera. I must admit I’d never heard of this form of “shoulder surfing”, but it’s clever – who knows what you’re actually taking a picture of?

Another is about a scam in which travelers are called in their hotel rooms at night. The caller says she’s from the front desk and there is an issue with their credit card and to please read the information over the phone. One should never read credit card info over the phone unless absolutely sure of the other party’s identity. Saying one is from the front desk is, of course no proof of identity. The calls come at night because you are more likely to be asleep and not thinking clearly.

 The book is full of good advice for keeping your identity safe. One technique of which I was unaware is that you can tell credit bureaus to include only portion of your Social Security number when they send out copies of your report. He includes a sample letter to send to the bureaus for this purpose.

In addition to advice for keeping your identity safe, he includes information on what to do if your identity has been compromised. I did much of this when my identity was stolen years ago. I wish I’d had the info on what to do all in one place (including sample letters) as he does in this book.

I’ve twice mentioned the sample letters. These are in Chapter 21. They are easy to follow and use.

Right now the book is free for the Amazon Kindle (a tool I find very useful, by the way). It’s surely worth the $18.99 for the paperback copy. While I mentioned Social Security and the sample letters, the techniques he talks about are valuable outside the US, too (we all need to shred documents with personal information when they no longer need to be kept). The book is worth buying and reading. I look forward to your comments below.

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