15 Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

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Secure atm card15 Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

1. Check your Credit Report regularly – Use or check the three main credit bureaus –  Equifax, Transunion, or Experian. Beware that there are many other scam sites out there that will offer to keep track of this for you but are, in reality, identity thieves themselves!
2. Don’t give out your Social Security Number (SSN) unless it is in a secure facility. So if your son’s soccer team asks for your social security number…. just say NO! They have no business asking for this type of information.
3. Protect your computer – Entire books have been written and many websites are devoted to educating you on ways to avoid viruses, trojan horses, etc. Take advantage of this very important knowledge.
4. Keep track of your billing cycles – A missing bill may mean that the ID Thief has changed your address.
5. Guard your mail from theft – It is better to take outgoing mail to a drop box rather than in the mailbox in front of your home. That little red flag alerts the thieves that there may be something valuable for them to steal.
6. Invest in a Shredder – And, not just any old shredder. Get a cross cut, micro-cut shredder for a few dollars more. There are programs out there that can take the regular strip cut shreddings and reassemble them in minutes.
7. Practice Safe Shopping – Only use sites that have an address (URL) beginning with https. Sites without the (S) are NOT safe to enter any of your personal information.
8. Avoid sketchy looking ATM’s – ID Thieves like to install ‘skimmers’ that read, store, and steal your numbers.
9. Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited calls or letters – Chances are they are ID Thieves
10. Use passwords that do not use dictionary words, and use UPPER case, lower case, numbers, and (if allowed) special characters like ! or #, or %….
11.DO NOT give your credit or debit card to a server or waiter at a restaurant to pay your bill. Most are honest, but some use scanners or just write down your numbers for sale to ID Thieves at a later date. ALWAYS USE CASH IN RESTAURANTS!
12. Store credit cards and other valuable papers in your home in secure locations where thieves and burglars are less likely to look. The first places a burglar/thief will look are underneath your bed, drawers, freezer, behind something on shelves, medicine cabinets, inside toilet tanks, dirty laundry, in (commercially available) fake cereal or fake canisters.
13. Spring cleaning on credit cards – Do you really need TWENTY cards or even FIVE cards? Choose your most valuable and close out the rest.
14. Place fraud alerts on your accounts
15. If your account makes it available, have an email or text message sent to you anytime a transaction occurs. If your bank/institution doesn’t offer this, maybe find one that does.

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