Do you know how protect yourself from identity theft and related issues? If you don’t then you need to be really worried. According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, about 15 million people in the US fall victims to identity (ID) theft. This costs the economy a whopping $ 50 billion every year. It means that 7% of all adults are at risk and will likely lose $3,500 when it happens. So, what can you do to safeguard yourself?
1. Properly Destroy All Private Statements and Records
Don’t just tear up the bank balance statement or credit card details and throw them into the trash bin. Also, you shouldn’t just crumble solicitations and other documents. What you need is ensuring they are completely destroyed. Go for a high quality shredder that cuts the documents and bank cards into very tiny pieces. You may also consider burning the paper documents.
2. Safeguard Your Mail
Are you aware that mailboxes are a good source of information about you? Many unscrupulous individual will access your mail and access personal and confidential information. You can stop this from happening by opting for a Post Office box. A good alternative is installing tamperproof mail boxes and making certain they lock properly. Avoid sending checks and bill payments through the home mail box.
3. Keep Your Social Security Number Safe
Don’t carry your social security card or any other document containing the number (health insurance card) with you. Losing it or momentarily misplacing it gives another person the opportunity to get your full details. It’s also crucial not to pen it down on checks as ID thieves may access your bank account details or credit report.
4. Avoid Leaving Paper Evidence
How often do you simply trash the ATM receipt into the bin after withdrawal? Many people have unknowingly lost their identity after thieves accessed the information from the receipt after an ATM withdrawal, filling at the pump, or paying using a credit card. Always destroy the receipt instead of throwing it inside the litter bin.
5. Keep a close Eye on Your Credit Card
Credit card is without-a-doubt a big source of personal information. Unscrupulous people will use many schemes to get the information. And this may happen even in the least suspected places; for instance, a high-end hotel. The Golden Rule is to never lose sight of your credit card. Always insist on the operator reading/swiping it in your presence. Also, lookout for strange looking devices placed inside ATM card slots.
6. Keep Your Computer Secure
Keeping your computer secure is a very important element when it comes to keeping your identity safe. We store and send so much personal information on our computers these days that it’s stupid not to protect it as well as you can. Ensuring that you have proper antivirus and antimalware software is the first step. Activating security elements such as password-protecting your operating system is another important step to take, especially for laptops which can easily be stolen. Follow a security blog such as Martinus Tech or two to stay on top of the latest in computer security tips.
7. Be Very Cautious When Giving Vital Information
Before giving your personal, bank account, or credit card details, first analyze the situation then be a bit inquisitive. Some situations may not need such information yet the service provider will insist on it. Always ask why the information is needed and when in doubt walk away. Better to be slow than sorry.
Theft of identity is a thorn in the flesh and the society needs to make concerted effort. Many people are unaware that someone is posing as them, and those who do realize while it’s too late. At this time, you may have your lost lots of money as well as credibility. Do not become a victim. Take action by following the above tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft today.