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Three things to do in just minutes to reduce chances of identity theft

From gas skimmers to massive company data breaches, cyber criminals are always looking for ways to steal your personal information.

In December, Wawa made headlines for a data breach there which compromised customers’ credit and debit information, possibly at all 850 of its locations.

“When it is a retail company like a Wawa, Home Depot, Target, it is going to have your credit card information, possibly your social security number, your home address; pretty much anything that people need to steal your identity,” said Ian Marlow, the CEO of the cyber security firm FitechGelb in Boca Raton.

Marlow says the new year is the perfect time to take three easy steps that could greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cyber crime in 2020. He says the best part, it’ll only takes less than an hour of your time to do so--- which is well worth it when you think of how much time it takes for victims of cyber crimes to recover from identity theft.

“When you’re a passenger in the car, when you’re basically sitting at work and you have 15 minutes and you’re just relaxing or you’re sitting at lunch instead of watching a YouTube video. So to me, it really isn’t that much time. It’s done right on our phones,” Marlow said.

Marlow says first, it’s important to create strong passwords that you change every few months and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. He says January is a great time to do this because a lot of people unwrapped new tech gadgets during the holiday season; some come with generic passwords for set-up, like ‘admin123,’ and people don’t immediately change it. He recommends using capital and lowercase letters, numbers and a special symbol.

Second, dual-factor authentication; if someone tries to hack or log into your device from a new location, it will send a notification to your phone and ask, ‘Is this you?' And you have to say "yes."

Third, he says to check your privacy settings on apps and social media sites often to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to and what personal information your willingly sharing.

As for avoiding your information being stolen at gas pumps through skimming devices, the safest option is to pay inside with cash.

If you only have a card, use one with a chip in it instead of swiping the magnetic stripe as data sent by the chip is generally encrypted so the hacker’s software can’t steal your info.