Identity theft is a growing concern for many people due to their dependence on the Internet and online shopping.
Despite the prevalence of online identity theft, many people also sometimes forget that they need protecting from identity theft in real life situations, too. Identity theft can completely destroy the lives of those that are victims, so it is imperative that preventative measures are taken in order to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your finances from identity theft. Recovering from having your identity stolen can take years, and is a complicated and involved process, so here are some tips to help protect yourself.
- Don’t give out your personal information to anyone that you can’t verify. Scammers often look legitimate on the surface, but a little digging will uncover the fact that they are not associated with the business they claim to be, and what they will do with your information is unclear.
- Change your passwords often - and choose ones that cannot easily be figured out. Websites often suggest using numbers, letters and special characters... This may seem like a hassle, but it is to protect yourself from identity theft. Choose phrases or titles, not birthdays and names - these are much harder to figure out.
- Be vigilant about your surroundings. When going to the ATM or signing credit card receipts in stores, be aware of those around you. Cover the numbers on the key pad, use a signature that would be difficult to reproduce. Any measures you take will make it harder for others to assume your identity.
- Keep an eye on personal documents and statements. Many people tend to leave mail unopened if they don't need to look at it right away - and since many practice online banking, they may not even receive paper statements. These statements and correspondence from your financial institutions are often the first sign that something may be wrong, so it is important to open and read them thoroughly on a regular basis.
- Sharing information can be dangerous. Do not fill out forms, respond to emails, or allow others to sign into your accounts for you, unless the situation absolutely calls for it. This is an open invitation for people to learn your information.
Writing passwords down could end in disaster. Even though it may seem like a great idea to take down every username and password that you have into a neat little file, this is only going to act as an aid for people that see or find them. This is especially true if these passwords are located in a file on your computer or in your email.
- Carrying your Social Security card and other important documents is a mistake. Although it is convenient to have these items, having them fall into the wrong hands could result in a major identity compromise and a legal struggle. Ladies should clean out their purses and both men and women should periodically clean out their wallets, taking out items like receipts, bank balances, and old checks when necessary.