Staying Safe from Identity Theft with These Simple Tips

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Staying safe from identity theft is something that I never used to be concerned about.  I didn’t give a lot of thought to the safety of my personal information.  I live in a small town and we’re used to trusting people for the most part.  Unfortunately, the more I watched the news and read the newspapers, I would see mentions of people who had their identities stolen in one way or another and that really made me think.

Staying Safe from Identity Theft with These Simple Tips

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Staying Safe from Identity Theft

How much of our personal information is really safe out there?  How many different places can someone find our personal information and use it in ways it wasn’t intended? Staying safe from identity theft started to become more and more important. These are a few things that I have started to do.

Shred documents

Shred all documents with personal information on them.  When you get a credit card application in the mail, a bank statement, a copy of your 401K statement, or a bill from your doctor, don’t just toss it in the trash or the recycle bucket.  Make sure that you shred the document in a shredder to ensure no one will be able to find your personal information in the landfill or recycle dumpster.

Use several passwords

Don’t use the same password for all your online accounts and make sure that your password isn’t easily identifiable. Make sure that your password is not a random word that is easily identifiable.  Choose a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols when you’re choosing your password. Even better, throw in a few uppercase letters as well.

Use a privacy screen

Consider using a privacy screen for your smartphone, laptop or tablet when you’re using it in public.  It only takes a moment for the person sitting next to you or standing behind you in line to glance over your shoulder and find out personal information from what you’re typing on your device. This also holds true when you are using your credit or debit card at an ATM machine.

Staying Safe from Identity Theft with These Simple Tips

How to prevent identity theft online

If you receive an email notice from your bank, Paypal, eBay or some other online site you have an account at asking for you to re-enter your details, never click the link in the email.  Type the website address in yourself and log into your account and see if you have a notice there.   The email may not come from who you think it does and clicking on the link can not only give you a virus, it can give your personal information to someone who shouldn’t have it.

Watch your handbag

Keep an eye on your handbag or wallet at all times. Don’t set it in the grocery cart while you wander away to find a good deal. And, don’t leave it on the bed at a party or get together.  Don’t set it on the floor in the bathroom stall where someone can reach under the door and grab it. This is even more important when you’re traveling. Tourists are often a target of identity theft scams.

Monitor your credit reports

Monitor your credit reports at least once a year. There are a number of ways you can get free credit reports.  Don’t forget to monitor our child’s credit report just in case.  Scammers have ways to get this information and use your child’s number to create a new identity. Consider enrolling in identity theft protection.

Staying Safe from Identity Theft with These Simple Tips

Add your photograph

If you use credit cards, order credit cards that have your photograph on the corner. Make sure to destroy expired cards and deactivate any credit cards that you have not used in at least 6 months.

Watch your social security number

Do not put your social security number on your checks.  There’s no reason every store clerk and person who handles your payment out there needs to have that information.  And, if you absolutely have to give it to someone, you can give it to them verbally.

Consider whether everyone that asks for your social security number really needs to have it.  If a government agency asks for it, they should have a privacy policy that explains how they will keep it safe and what they will do with it.

Staying Safe from Identity Theft with These Simple Tips

Be careful

Don’t be too trusting with your information. Just because a woman calls from your bank and asks you to verify a problem with your account does not mean she is actually calling from your bank.  Hang up with her and call the bank back yourself to verify using a number you know is for your bank.

The most important thing that you can do is to learn how identity theft happens. Think about what you do with your personal information and be aware of what types of things contain your personal information.  By being informed, you will be more aware of things that just don’t seem right.

So, do you have any other tips for staying safe from identity theft?

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