Identity theft can create real and serious problems for any victim. The best defense you have is to protect yourself right from the start. You can never be fully protected, however taking precautions and being proactive can decrease the risk of becoming an identity theft victim. New identity theft schemes are hatched every day. Yet, we have enough to do in life without having to worry about continuously staying one step ahead of identity thieves.
Criminals use victims’ data to empty their bank accounts, make purchases, take out loans, open utility accounts, gain employment and even secure medical treatment. Due to the wide-ranging nature of the crime, it’s important that you take an active part in safeguarding all of your personal details.
Secure Your Paper Document: Keeping your Social Security card, passport, mortgage statements and tax information locked securely in your home will cut down on your identity theft risk in the event a burglar breaks into your home. Many criminals commit the crime the old-fashioned way by looking for old bank statements or cell phone bills in your garbage, so make sure to cross-shred these documents before disposing of them.
Don’t Carry More Than You Need: Having a back-up credit card is good for emergencies, but walking around with four credit cards, a check book and your Social Security card will put you at greater risk of identity theft if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen. Carry the bare essentials with you when you leave your home and know what type of payment system you plan to use. If you’re only going to the grocery store, take out cash beforehand and leave your credit cards at home.
Update Your Computer Security Settings: Phishing scams, Trojans and key-stroke programs are common ways criminals trick you into revealing personal information. Protect yourself from these malicious schemes by making sure your security and anti-virus software is up-to-date. Avoid responding to emails from senders you don’t recognize. Many criminals send emails that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or utility company, and ask for personal account details. Legitimate companies NEVER ask for financial details via email, so do not respond, and contact the business immediately to alert them to the situation.
Don’t Reveal Too Much Online: Social networking websites are becoming more popular among criminals who use Facebook and Twitter to meet potential victims and peruse their information. Avoid posting details such as your mother’s maiden name, your address, place of birth and workplace. It may be fun to tweet that you’re on vacation or at a concert, but this information may also alert criminals that you’re not home, giving them the opportunity to break in potentially undetected.
Identity Theft Checklist
This identity theft checklist will help you get started with being proactive for 2015 and from becoming a fraudster’s next victim. These are only a few suggestions that you should take to protect yourself from identity theft.