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What To Keep Off The Grid: Parts of Your Life to Keep Protected

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The Covid Crisis has shown us the sudden validity of needing to prepare for the worst case scenario. There may be something to be said for living off the grid. People with their own sources of electricity who exist off of social media have managed to maintain some sense of normalcy. 

It does beg the question: what aspects of the “off the grid” lifestyle are worth considering? What are the things you should keep off the grid for safety, security, and sanity? 

Now you may not decide to quit your job and live in a cabin in the woods. But we can learn some cybersecurity secrets from doomsday preppers. We can all afford to keep an eye on what we share.  It’s critical you keep some things off the grid because you may not even realize how they can be used to violate your privacy or steal your identity.

Social security card

This one is a given. It’s best to simply have your social security number memorized and keep the card safely in storage. Try to avoid sharing photos of your social security card. An identity thief could get a hold of this and use it to impersonate you to open a line of credit or more. 

But what about when I need to share my social security number? 

You may not always be able to avoid sharing your social, but when you do make sure it is on a legitimate, secure site. 

As far as the physical card goes, try to just keep the original and don’t copy it. Any copies of your social security card increase the risk of your social security number getting into the wrong hands. There are also other forms of identification that could potentially be used in lieu of the hard copy of your social security card. 

Driver’s license or ID

Similarly, copies of your ID can be problematic. Criminals could potentially use your identification as proof that they are you online. At first, that may seem far-fetched, but in the world cybercrimes there’s a premium on your information. An identity thief could use your identification to create a fake ID, or he could choose to just impersonate you online. 

Whenever possible, avoid uploading your hardcopy identification onto the internet.  Remember, your driver’s license number is used as an added step for identity verification. Having that online increases the chances a criminal could use it to build a profile to steal your identity. 

Tax information

This is another big Don’t with a capital D because your tax information can be used as proof of your identity as well. With this information a criminal would have access to where you are employed and a full picture of your assets and finances. 

Cybercriminals could leverage your tax information to impersonate you with financial institutions to “prove their identity.” Your gross tax income is often a security question. Not to mention all the myriad information a criminal might be able to use from your tax returns. Often, your taxes can simply be hardcopies. If you do them online, be sure to print a hard copy for your records and then delete any files on your computer. If you are emailing copies, use an encrypted service. 

Medical insurance information 

There are other forms of fraud and identity theft. Health care fraud is growing as there’s a market for health care services. Be aware that there are people who are uninsured and desperate who might be willing to pay a criminal for a chance to seek treatment. This means someone could rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills in your name. 

Medical identity theft is one of the most difficult types of identity theft to repair. It can affect your health and financial future, so it’s best to be very responsible about where you share your medical health information. Also, be sure to regularly check your explanation of benefits for any treatment that does not sound familiar. 

Limit social media

One major difference between everyday people and people “off the grid” is they stay off social media. There’s a ton of information we share willy nilly on social media. Not to mention the apps on our phones can log our location and track us wherever we go. 

As debates about politics and social issues heat up online, it may be worth considering taking a break from social media. Social media has become a way of life but there are studies indicating that rather than making people feel connected it is making people feel depressed. Due to quarantine, people may have upped their attention to social media but it can actually negatively affect your mood and make you feel more isolated

The best way to prevent various types of identity theft is to limit the access criminals have to your information. You may not be in a position to completely leave the grid. And, honestly, you may not want to. But there is something to be learned from keeping a significant amount of your personal information off of the net and essentially “off the grid.” You may not want to completely leave your life behind but you can make the extra effort to keep a large portion of your life off the internet for your security.

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