Over 9 million Americans are affected by identity theft every year. Anyone is vulnerable to having their private and financial information stolen and that is why you should be proactive in protecting yourself against identity theft. Here are 10 ways that you can protect yourself.
1. Keep your personal documents safe
This will prevent people from easily accessing your information. You can either buy a safe and store your documents in your house or office or you can hire a safety deposit box and keep your documents there. This includes documents such as your social security card, birth certificate and passport.
2. Do not reveal personal information to people you do not know
If someone you do not know questions you about your personal information, you are not obliged to give it to them, especially over the phone or Internet. Only give information to people who have verified their identity.
3. Safeguard your purse or wallet
Take care of your wallet to minimize chances of losing it or someone stealing it from you. This is because most people carry sensitive information in their wallets. Do not leave your wallet in open places. Have copies of the documents in your wallet so that in case it gets lost, you can cancel cards and order replacements.
4. Check your bank accounts and credit cards statements every month
This will ensure that there are no unverified charges. If you notice something amiss in your statements or some odd charges that you did not make, contact your bank immediately.
5. Discard personal documents safely
The best way to do this is by shredding documents that contain sensitive information. This is because identity thieves go through dumpsters in search of valuable information that will help them steal from others. Use a cross cut shedder to make it harder for criminals to piece together documents.
6. Only use secure websites when making purchases online
This will minimize chances of someone stealing your credit card information and using it for their own purposes. If you want to know whether a website is safe to use or not, check into the websites background and see if they run like a legitimate business. Often scam websites will be located at a random address overseas, and many do this so they can avoid being caught by the law. Alternatively, you can use virtual credit cards for one time purchases and discard the card once you have completed your transaction. You can also consider evaluating the websites' payment processing systems- if they use a popular system such as Paypal or Stripe which can show that their payments systems are secure. If any business is dealing in fraud, the big credit card processing companies will generally stop doing business with these accounts.
7. If you use wifi at home or in an office, make sure that is secure
It is quite easy for a hacker to access any information that you send over an unsecured network. Find out how to encrypt information sent over an unsecured network. This will prevent intruders from accessing information when you are surfing online. It is also advisable to use your own personal computer instead of a public computer when you are carrying out sensitive tasks online.
8. Do not give out your social security number to just anyone
This is because once someone knows your social security number; they can use it to access your bank accounts and credit card statements. Do not carry the number around with you or write it down in any of your documents. Also, do not just give the number out to anyone who asks for it if you are not sure why they are asking you for your number.
9. Safeguard your mail
Identity thieves like to steal from mail boxes. Ensure that you regularly empty your mail box to prevent people from stealing sensitive documents. If this is not possible, consider getting a postal box and going to the post office to collect your mail. Also, if you want to mail out sensitive information, it is advisable to mail it from the post office rather than leave it in your mail box for the mail man to collect.
10. Hire an identity theft protection service
There are several companies that offer this service. These companies will show you how to protect yourself from identity theft. In the unfortunate event that your identity is stolen, the company will help you to recover your identity and if possible to apprehend the criminals behind the whole scheme.
In case you or anyone you know has been effected by ID theft we have another article that gives advice on what to do after being hit with identity fraud and the article can be found over here. You can also find Veriscan ID Scanners on our website which our designed to help business owners protect themselves from ID fraud.