New identity theft schemes are hatched every day. Yet, we have enough to do in life without having to worry about continuously staying one step ahead of identity thieves. Incorporate these basic tips into your life and make protecting yourself from identity theft a habit rather than a task.
- Check your credit report regularly. Make sure you recognize all of your accounts and be proactive about addressing negative issues.
- Shred documents before you throw them away. This low-tech way of collecting personal information is an identity thief’s bread and butter. Always err on the side of caution and shred anything that has your information on it.
- Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. There is simply no need for that. In fact, your Social Security card should be locked up with your passport and other important personal documents in a home safe or a safety deposit box.
- Secure your outgoing mail. Identity thieves often target home mailboxes looking for any outgoing mail that might have a signed check or other document with personal information available. If possible, take your important mail directly to the post office.
- Be wary of callers asking for account information. Identity thieves will sometimes call claiming to represent your bank or credit card company, in an attempt to get you to give them personal information. They may suggest there’s been suspicious activity on your account and ask that you verify information – such as your Social Security number or mother’s maiden name – in order to take care of it. Don’t be fooled when they tell you the first few digits of your credit card number in order to convince you of their validity; some credit card companies have the same first few digits on all the cards they issue. Unfortunately this scam happens frequently and a lot of people fall for it. Real businesses will never, ever call and ask for that information.
Don’t let yourself become a victim. Follow these basic tips to help protect your identity. And, if you want to take identity theft prevention one step further, invest in an identity protection service.