How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Identity theft has become as commonplace as car theft, and knowing how to protect yourself from identity theft will decrease your risk of becoming a victim. If your financial and personal information is not readily available, thieves will most likely pass by you and move on to someone who is an easier target.
- Your Social Security number should be protected to prevent identity theft. Keep your social security card in a safe place at home. Your identity is easily stolen when a thief has your social security number. Ask to have your driver’s license or account numbers changed if they mimic your social security number.
- Shred mail and receipts before throwing them away. Your personal and financial information is found on many items such as insurance forms, doctor’s statements, bank statements, credit card offers, and some credit card charge receipts from various stores. Shred these documents before throwing them out.
- Use the post office. When sending outgoing mail, use the post office or a secured postal box instead of the mailbox outside your home. After your daily mail has been delivered, pick it up as soon as possible. Identity thieves have been known to drive through rural areas with the sole purpose of looking through mailboxes for credit card offers or bills in an attempt to get your account information.
- Be careful when using the internet. Avoid using your credit cards online and choose passwords that are complicated. The strongest passwords include a combination of letter, numbers, and characters if allowed.
- When you are contacted by phone, never give out personal or financial information. If you are contacted by an organization that you feel you need to give personal information to, confirm who they are and call them back. Businesses such as your bank will not contact you on the phone and ask for personal information. If this happens, tell the caller that you will be calling them back through your banks regular phone number to verify their legitimacy.