Identity theft may not involve someone breaking into your house at night or pointing a gun at you in a bank, but it can be just as scary. That’s because your identity is one thing you have that cannot be replaced and, once someone steals your identity, the process of getting it back can be lengthy and painstaking. There are safety measures you can take to lessen your chances of ever having to recover from this kind of violation. Here are five tips for preventing identity theft:
Use Password Protection
Make sure you choose a secure password to protect your credit account information. Use something other than the default “mother’s maiden name,” as this information can easily be obtained from your credit report and/or public records.
Question Information Requests
In most cases, it is not necessary for you to provide all of the information that is requested of you on government, employer, merchant, school and creditor forms. Before listing critical details like your social security number, ask why it is needed and verify that the reason is valid. Additionally, many identity theft schemes involve obtaining social security numbers and other personal information by way of telephone scams, so you should never give your social security number to a telephone agent unless you made the call or have verified the caller.
Shred Important Documents
Before you throw away mail or other items containing your identifying information, shred it. This includes things like bills, bank statements, personal letters, and credit cards. Identity thieves can find out a lot about people just by going through their garbage, and they often do.
Store Information Wisely
Don’t ever write down account numbers, passwords, pin numbers, or other personal information in a place where it can be found by an identity thief. Storing such information in your purse, wallet, or cell phone puts you at an increase risk of identity theft, as any thief can gain access to those items. Instead, try to memorize all of your important numbers, or keep them in a locked drawer in your office.
Avoid Phishing Scams
Email phishing scams involve sending an official-looking email, asking the recipient to verify personal information. These emails may appear to be from government entities, banks, charities, or sweepstakes agencies. Once the scammers get what they want, they can use that information to steal your identity.
Identity thieves are looking for new ways to access your personal information every single day. Don’t give them the chance. Protect yourself from identity theft by following these simple tips.
About the Author: Deborah Blair is a writer and blogger with a passion for personal finance and money saving tips. She writes about identity theft, credit repair, bad credit loans, and anything related to bettering one’s financial situation.
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