Until recently I was absolutely manic about my personal data. Now though I am so fed up with all the warnings of data theft, if I listened to all the stories, i dont think I would leave home or use a computer.
I have friends that incinerate all bank statements and friends who pay for sensitive refuge to be collected and destroyed at their door step at £10 per bag.
I try to cover myself by the following:
1. Zero paper statements, everything on line, so nothing to destroy and no sensitive envelopes through my front door.
2. Will not email any financial information to public servers such as hotmail / google accounts
3. If an airline or hotel group ask for me for personal data, I am generally comfortable. If I am asked by a company where I do not have the confidence regarding their security, i will give an incorrect date of birth and address (perhaps 1 incorrect digit of the post code)
4. If I log onto a network where no password or email address is requested (i.e. an open network) I immediately log off
5. I change my computer password every month and use letters, numbers and icons.
6. invested in my own server and pay an IT company to manage all my computers
7. I send all computers on my network for maintenance every 6 months – cost £50 per computer and its amazing the crap thay needs to be cleaned up.
8. I change my primary computer every 18 months – my computer is my office, contains sensitve client data, it needs to be renewed
9. If I am unsure about an attachment, it is sent to my IT department to review. I often email people to check whether what I have received is genuine
10. I have no issue using Facebook, but wouldnt dream of putting anything other than social info. I would use twitter if I knew how to!!
11. Happy to answer surveys, but never include my name or detail. they probably know who I am, but I do not intend helping them to find out.
12. With regards to banking and credit cards. I use Amex and bank with a private bank. This way I can let people know when and where I am going. I have accounts with in the high street, but never have more than a few hundred pounds in them and generally use those accounts purely for ATM’s. I am happy to pay bank and credit card fees as long as I get an standard number to call in from abroad and with out the need for 0845 etc.
Finally, I make sure that when i pay using a credit card, that it never leaves my site. I was recently in LA and the maitre d was a little unsure when I followed him when he took my Amex card to a machine to swipe.
If anyone ever has cause to think they have been compromised regarding a financial or data issue, get onto the the institution asap and make sure you carry a list of the 24 hour numbers. Once its been reported, generally you are in the clear.