LEADING OFF: Expert Provides Tips for Identity Theft Protection


As we go to press, Toyota, Planet Hollywood and Facebook are the latest data breach victims. In March, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry announced it would allot $3.25 million to compensate victims of an alleged data breach.

In 2018, the number of records exposed by U.S. breaches was up 126% from 2017, reports the Identity Theft Resource Center. Also, identity theft can occur at organizations of any size. For example, in a practice, an employee could target an optometrist’s personal information or financial records.

Here, Rob Douglas ( ), a nationally recognized identity theft expert, weighs in on how O.D.s can protect themselves.

Image courtesy of Oleksii/

Place a security freeze on your credit file. “By placing an ongoing security freeze on your credit file at all four major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis, which is free and can be temporarily removed in order to open a new credit account, new account fraud can be thwarted,” he explains.

For information, visit the credit bureaus’ websites. (See as an example.)

Also, everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report annually, which can be obtained at, or for Innovis, visit .

Do business with companies that require multifactor authentication. Multifactor authentication requires more than one way to authenticate an identity (e.g. birthdate and PIN) to gain access to information or make a purchase, providing an extra layer of protection from identity thieves.

Use Passphrases. A passphrase is harder for hackers to crack, Mr. Douglas points out. Additionally, at least 12 characters protect from brute force attacks, reports CNET. A passphrase example: “Optometric management wants Your practice to be #1.”

Consider tweaking a passphrase to make it unique for each account, says Mr. Douglas. “For example, If you have a Capital One credit card, “Optometric management and CapOne want Your practice to be #1.”

Self monitor your identity. Once a month, review your accounts. “Identity thieves are re- lentless in looking for new ways to breach a company’s security protocols, and many have,” says Mr. Douglas. OM

Mr. Douglas reports no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned above.