More important than these macro solutions for which the government is ultimately responsible, are the steps that you can take to protect yourself. The same Internet technology that creates the risks also provides defenses against them. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risks considerably:
* Make sure that you have the most up-to-date security software, firewalls and malware protections on your computer and communication devices.
* Check your bank and credit card accounts online daily.
* Invest in a good credit or identity monitoring service.
Think of the cost of these steps in money and time as the very reasonable cost of the enormous convenience of the Internet and smartphones. Here are a few other best practices when it comes to making sure you are never compromised by your smartphone:
* Disable your GPS function unless you really need it.
* Be careful with certain apps because many of them track your movements as well.
* Never, ever, click on an e-mail (or respond to a text) unless you are absolutely certain of its authenticity. And even if you are convinced it is authentic, you might still wish to go to your browser and type in the name of the organization with which you wish to do business yourself.
Finally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to turn off your cell phone once in a while. I know how hard this might be for some of us—especially me. Frankly, I go through communication withdrawal every time I simply reboot my cell phone. It's that sense of disconnection from the rest of the planet. Trust me, I get it.
[Resource: 12 Tips for Protecting Your Identity]
Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.