More and more people are becoming victims of identity theft and there appears to be no limit to the efforts a person will take to steal someone’s personal information. Sure there are plenty of ID theft prevention companies out there and your bank and credit card company have all approached you with their own program but what if you cannot afford it or simply don’t want to pay for this protection?
If you’re like me and are convinced the only way to do something is to do it yourself, here are eight great ways to help reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft:
1. Shred documents – Simply tearing up your bills, solicitations and other items is not enough. Thieves will dig in your trash, in the dump, anywhere they believe they might find some nugget of information to use for their own ill-gotten gains. You have to invest in a shredder, preferably one that does a cross-cut shred (makes confetti) rather than small segmented strips.
2. Never ever leave a receipt in your vehicle, at a restaurant, a store, anywhere. Always keep your receipt and shred it.
3. If someone is requesting your social security number, bank account, or drivers license, ask them why before handing it over. If you do not like the answer, don’t do it. Ask for a manager or supervisor. According to the government, your social security card is not an authorized form of identity!
4. Be very wary of the Internet – Online thieves are everywhere. Just because you received an email from your bank doesn’t mean it is your bank. Never use a link in an email to go to a website and then enter in personal information. Either call the company or go directly to the website by inputting their URL in your text/search box.
5. Do not give your personal financial information to friends or family members – Sometimes the most trusted person in your life might be the one who uses your identity to get a loan, a credit card or buy something on credit. Unless you are willing to prosecute them, do not give them access to your personal information.
6. Do not use a cell phone or portable phone when calling a business to give them your personal information. I know this may be very difficult but cell phones and even portable phones can be easily monitored by anyone.
7. Do not leave any personal information inside your vehicle.
8. The moment you realize your ID has been stolen, contact the local authorities, your bank, credit cards, insurance, social security, and any other entities that you had information or cards with.
Being a diligent and persistent compulsive person about your identity will go a long way in preventing anyone from being able to steal it from you. You do not have to sign up with an ID theft prevention service, you just have to be very cautious and careful with your personal information and how you dispose of it when you have to.