Friday, November 6, 2015

Theft Identity: Keep Your Info to Yourself

theft identity

You have probably heard a lot about identity theft, but do you know how to protect yourself?  Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personal information for their own gain.  This information can include name, social security number, credit or debit card number, birthday, driver’s license number, or bank account number.  Because theft identity requires a bit of personal information to get the thief started, the logical first step is to protect your personal information to make it less likely that it will fall into the wrong hands.

Only give your social security number when absolutely necessary.  

Just because a form asks for your social security number does not mean that you have to give it away.  There are some organizations that have the right to demand your social security number – your employer, the motor vehicle department or welfare departments, for example – most places do not.  When asked for a social security number, too many people just rattle it off without really thinking about it.  Remember that the more people and places that have your social security number, the more likely it is that it will be compromised.  Before you give it away, ask why it is needed and what it will be used for.  Often, another number will do.

Don’t carry more than you need.  

Only carry credit cards that you actually plan on using.  To help protect yourself from identity theft, never carry your social security card in your wallet.  Leave it at home in a secure location.  If your wallet were to get lost or stolen, you have to cancel every single credit card that was in that wallet, and you cannot cancel your social security number.

Invest in a shredder.  

There are many high-tech ways to steal personal information for identity theft, but that doesn’t mean that criminals have given up on dumpster diving.  Shred any documents or papers that contain any personal information before you throw them away.

Monitor your credit report.  

One of the most effective ways to identify if you have been a victim of identity theft is to check your credit report.  Look for anything suspicious such as accounts that you don’t recognize, inquiries from companies that you don’t know, or inaccuracies in your basic information.

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