Identity theft is the type of crime that is increasing at the quickest rate, as anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the past few years knows. There are several easy things you can do to ensure you don’t become a target, but there are no guarantees. Find out how to defend yourself against identity theft.
When it comes to protecting your identity, the adage “knowledge is power” has never been more applicable. You can take some actions to make yourself a “harder” target for would-be robbers.
I learned about a resident in the Chicago area who discovered that an unauthorized immigrant had been using his identity for many years. Since the burglar kept up with his payments, it never appeared on the man’s credit record. He was clueless!
Make it difficult for the criminals by learning how to defend yourself from identity theft. This is the first and most obvious step. Give your personal information only when necessary. For years, a friend of mine had kept her social security card in her wallet. I have told her that she is taking a major risk.
Limit the amount of identification you carry to what is necessary. Your social security card is not required to be on you at all times. Don’t take all your credit cards with you when you leave the house. Unless you need more to go shopping, only bring one.
2. Never divulge private information over the phone… except when you called them. Today, there are inexpensive devices that can hide anyone’s caller ID. In other words, because your caller ID indicates that your local bank (or utility company, or credit card business) is calling, doesn’t mean that it is.
Err on the side of caution and hang up the phone if you ever receive a questionable call before calling the company back. Also, make sure you look up the number yourself so you know who you’re calling before dialing the number you get from the person who contacted you.
3. You’d be shocked at how much a thief can do with the most basic of pieces of information. So, before disposing of any documents in the garbage, be sure to shred them all. Once more, it is wise to err on the side of caution. Why not use caution even if you believe that the documents contain no relevant information? It only takes a minute to shred.
4. Never enter personal information on a website after clicking a link in an email that takes you there. As with caller ID on a phone, hackers might fool you into thinking you’re on their website while actually stealing your personal information. As an example, they might make you believe you’re on the website of your bank. Please enter the address exactly into your web browser.
It’s very simple to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft; the most important thing is to adhere to these basic precautions.