Experts offer easy, cheap tips to avoid identity theft

Information security students learn how to prevent hackers from stealing info
Experts offer easy, cheap tips to avoid identity theft

Experts offer easy, cheap tips to avoid identity theft

The fallout from identity theft can be hard, but protecting yourself can be easy and cheap, and it can start in the classroom.

Mike Masino is a Madison College information security professor who said his class size has more than doubled in seven years.

“They’re learning specifically to go into this field, and as you can see there’s a big need for it,” Masino said.

Students in Masino’s Thursday class are learning how to build a firewall, in part to prevent hackers from stealing people’s personal information.

“Nowadays you really need to be aware of what can happen and how to prevent it,” MATC senior Brandon Ceicko said.

Most of Ceicko’s classmates have a job lined up before they finish school. He expects to have a job when he graduates in May — call it job security in a world of security breaches.

“There’s a lot of people that really want to know this and there are jobs for it,” Ceicko said.

For some people who might be past learning, they can pay for protection instead.

“It really is worth the piece of mind,” American Family Insurance agent Bill Eberle said. His company offers identity theft insurance for as little as $25 a year. “The potential harm to your identity is tremendous compared to relatively minimal cost for the coverage.”

There’s a $250 deductible, but the plan includes proactive services, like tips, techniques and help with estate activities and can offer relocation identity protection.

It also offers resolution services like free fraud alerts, dedicated fraud specialists and help finding third parties such as credit bureaus and law enforcement.

Masino also recommends getting new debit and credit cards every six months and reminds consumers identity theft is a persistent problem.

“It’s not that companies don’t take really good steps to prevent this kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s just somebody always finds a way in.”

Companies like LifeLock and Trusted ID also offer programs to monitor your finances.