For only one dollar, someone can buy your stolen identity and use it to open a new credit card account in your name, according to cybersecurity expert Carrie Kerskie, author of Your Public Identity: Because Nothing Is Private Anymore.

Kerskie discussed her tips and best practices for reducing the risk of identity theft during an April 17, 2019, live webinar presentation at the San Francisco office of Yeske Buie, a wealth management and financial planning firm with a second office in Vienna, Va.

Kerskie said that one of the most effective defenses against new account credit card fraud was a credit freeze, which could not only be used to protect adults, but minors as well.

“Once you post it, it stays there until you remove it,” Kerskie told her audience. “Best of all, since December last year, it’s free and has no impact on your credit account—it just prevents new credit accounts from being opened.”

Kerskie cautioned members of her audience that they had to contact all credit reporting agencies, not just the three most well-known ones.

The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. However, Innovis and MicroBilt Corporation, which owns several subsidiaries, also provide credit history data.

Kerskie stressed that members of her audience should write down their PIN (personal identification number) when creating a credit freeze because they would need it to get access to their accounts.

In addition to creating a PIN, Kerskie told her audience that they also had to set up an authentication code and user account. However, she warned them not to do it by text message, which was no longer a secure means of communication. Instead, she advised, clients should use an e-mail message to safely communicate sensitive information, such as user names and passwords, which thieves will seek to steal through any scam possible.

“The bad guys will call your mobile company with their SIM card ID number and ask to transfer your information to it,” Kerskie said. “Once your mobile service is tied to their phone, they’ll get all your phone calls and text messages, including a password reset.”

As a result, Kerskie warned audience members not to use the same password for their e-mails as the one they used for their phone. She said that the best passwords to use were the longest ones possible to create.

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