Ten Ways To Prevent Identity Theft In 2014
There are always going to be people who try to steal your identity or credit cards. The key to protecting your critical financial and personal information is to be proactive in keeping them safe. While there are ways to limit your liability and stop identity fraud once it occurs, you are much better off if you stop the action before it happens. Once you have become a victim of identity fraud, you need to contact multiple officials, including law enforcement, your banking institution and possibly the FTC. In order to avoid the hassle and potential liability, you can take actions to keep your information from ever falling into the wrong hands in the first place. If you follow the steps below, you can feel confident that your information will be better safeguarded against theft.
Keep Your Social Security Number Safe
Your social security number should be your most well-guarded item. You don’t ever want to carry the card on your person, and you certainly don’t want to use it online or over the phone. The only time you should give out your social security number is with a reputable institution and where you initiated the contact.
Don’t Write Down Your PIN Numbers
Writing down PIN numbers is something that you definitely don’t want to do. Having a wallet full of PIN numbers can make your bank accounts much less safe if your debit card is stolen. Instead of carrying PIN numbers in your wallet, memorize the number. In addition, it is also a good idea to memorize all of your online passwords.
Shred Important Documents
You might think throwing away documents at home or in the office makes them safe, but that’s not necessarily true. Identity thieves have found their way through trash to steal people’s personal information. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, shred all critical information, such as bank statements, credit reports, purchase receipts, insurance information and checks.
Don’t Carry Extra Personal Information
There is no need to carry any extra personal information. For most people, that means just your driver’s license and one credit or debit card. Carrying extra debit or credit cards, your birth certificate or social security card makes you more vulnerable if your wallet is stolen.
Regularly Check Your Bank Statements And Credit Card Bills
Without checking your bank statements and credit card bills on a regular basis, you open yourself up to the potential of being a victim of fraud. You should regularly check all of your bank statements and bills from your financial institutions. This gives you the ability to look for any unauthorized charges that you did not make. Be proactive—make sure you check these statements at least once a month, preferably much more often.
Don’t Leave Your Mailbox Unattended
Unattended mailboxes are frequented by those looking to steal another’s identity. Don’t make that mistake. Instead of leaving your mailbox unattended, make sure you are regularly removing mail from your mailbox. Also, never leave your outgoing mail unattended. Always take mail directly to a postal carrier instead of leaving it in your mailbox.
Don’t Openly Give Out Information
Giving out personal information online or over the phone is a big mistake. Don’t put yourself in a potentially compromising situation. Instead, only give out your information if you are talking with a reputable organization and only if you initiated the contact. Spammers and identity thieves have been known to imitate banks, student loan providers and others to try and get their hands on your information.
Use Firewalls On Your Computer
Firewalls will help to stop hackers from getting information saved on your computer. Make sure you have the latest updates installed, as hackers are consistently finding new ways to get into the computers of innocent bystanders.
Regularly Check Your Credit Report
You’ll want to regularly check your credit report to ensure that there are no discrepancies. This is one of the best steps you can take to protect your identity. The longer you wait to report identity theft, the more liable for the charges you might be. Make sure you check your credit report on a regular basis to avoid the problem in the first place.
Ask Insurance Companies For A Replacement Account Number
If you are looking to avoid insurance fraud, you can ask your private medical insurer for a replacement account number. Almost all medical insurance companies have some form of fraud protection, and you’ll want to check your policy to see exactly what protections your company affords. Make sure you know the number to call if you see an unauthorized claim has been made in your name.
While a number of these steps might seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many people forget to do them. You need to consistently check your credit report for errors or discrepancies. You’ll want to keep an eye on all of your important personal records, such as birth certificates and social security numbers. Don’t let those documents outside of a safe, secure area. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t write down things that you could instead memorize—such as bank account numbers and PIN numbers for debit cards. There is a lot of technology online that can help keep your computer secure—such as firewalls. Staying protected online is just as, if not more, important than keeping your personal records secure. Following these steps will help you to protect your identity this year and keep your financials safe!