Don’t Feed The Database! 5 Tricks to Help Protect Yourself From A Massive Data Breach

June 2014: Another day, another data breach — what’s a consumer to do? The latest mega-hack was at eBay where cybercrooks gained access to 145 million eBay user accounts.

It’s going to keep happening. The payoffs are too lucrative. But while you can’t control how well a company protects your data once you give it to them, you can do these five things to reduce your risk of getting caught up in the next big breach:

1. Ask yourself if you really need to open that account.
Can you get the item or service through an account you already have? The more accounts you have, the greater your risk of being part of a security breach.

2. Only give information that’s needed to make the transition.
Your name, email address, street address, credit card information and the phone number associated with your credit card is all they need. Using PayPal, Google Wallet, ProPay or another online payment service keeps your bank and credit card account numbers out of retailers’ hands entirely.

3. Avoid nosy retailers. If a retailer asks about your employment, income or lifestyle, it’s for marketing purposes. And it’s none of their business. If they require it, shop somewhere else. And don’t ever give your Social Security Number, birth date or other account numbers to any retailer, including ones you trust.

4. Avoid retailers that don’t post a privacy policy.
If they don’t, there’s a reason — they will likely share your information or not inform you if there’s a breach. Also avoid those that don’t post their phone number and street address for the same transparency reasons. Here’s what to look for in a privacy policy.

5. Don’t ever shop online with your debit card. Credit cards and online payment services are safer because they don’t give direct access to your bank account.

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