Identity theft can cause all sorts of trouble for anyone affected by it. In a world so highly dependent on technology, it’s quite easy to leave behind a trail of personal information that can be stolen. The best defense is knowing how to carefully manage this information, and the more people know how to do this, the less rewarding this type of crime becomes for the perpetrators.
Here are a few steps you can take to avoid identity theft:
– Google yourself. Go to google and put in your name and city and see what you find. That is often the starting point for identity thieves. If you find your name and personal information listed, you need to start contacting these sites and get your information removed. It is a hard task, but important one. If you want to do a free search to see what is out there on you, click here to do a FREE risk assessment from ManageURiD, the leader in identity protection.
– Be careful giving out information over the phone. There will obviously be times when you’ll have to provide sensitive information to someone on the phone, but the idea is to avoid it whenever possible. Your best bet is not to give anything out unless the call was initiated by you.
– Shred your sensitive documents. Always remember that your trash can easily become someone else’s treasure. While you can’t hang on to old bank statements, receipts and credit card offers indefinitely, you can shred them into tiny pieces that are useless to identity thieves. Although any type of shredder offers some degree of protection, a cross-cut shredder is by far the best choice.
– Keep an eye on your credit. One of the best things you can do is make sure your credit reports are always accurate. A credit monitoring service can alert you to changes you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of, providing you with an additional line of defense against identity theft.
– Carry only essential documents. There’s no need to carry any documentation with you that you don’t absolutely need. This includes extra credit cards, birth certificates, Social Security cards or passports that can be lost or stolen.
– Pick up new checks at your bank. When having new checks delivered through the mail, there’s a risk they can be stolen, altered or even cashed by someone else. Your safest bet is to pick them up at your bank.
– Maintain a list of all accounts. If your wallet is ever lost or stolen, it’s important to be able to let your creditors know. Keep a list of your various creditors, their phone numbers and all your account numbers in a safe place. Check this list often to make sure it’s up-to-date.
– Keep track of your billing cycles. One of the first things you can expect an identity thief to do is change your billing address to keep you in the dark about any suspicious activity. Keep up with your billing cycles to make sure you’re still getting your bills, so you can go over each transaction.
– Create difficult passwords. Don’t use passwords that can be easily figured out, such as those that include names and significant dates. Instead, use a random mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
– Hide your Social Security Number. Avoid carrying anything that has your social security number on it. Also, don’t allow your bank to print it on your personal checks.
The most important thing to remember is that identity thieves are trying at least as hard to get your information as you are trying to prevent them from getting it. In fact, it’s still possible to have your information stolen despite your best efforts. There are no guarantees when it comes to preventing any type of crime, but there is a lot you can do to make it more difficult for those who make it their business to exploit others.