We all know that identity theft is a big, and growing bigger by the day, problem. It can be a nightmare trying to get everything sorted out and back to the way it was prior to the theft.
To make sure that you never have to go through that particular nightmare, there are many simple things you can do to prevent identity theft. These things are so simple that there is no excuse to not take the few minutes of time to do them on a daily basis.
Why would anyone want to make it easy to be victimized?
Here are some (simple) things to keep in mind:
1. Never carry things in your wallet that shouldn’t be in your wallet. I have a friend who continues to carry her social security card in her wallet. I have told her repeatedly that if her wallet was ever stolen crooks would have one of the most helpful pieces of information they need to steal her identity; her social security number.
So, why does she continue to carry it? I don’t know. Think about it, how often do you even need your social security card? Never, or pretty close to it. You memorize your number and that’s that.
From that point on you put your card in a safe deposit box or a small, lockable lock box at home (preferably one that is permanently mounted to the floor so it is hard to steal) and you leave it there safe and sound.
2. Never carry all your credit cards with you. Unless you are going on one heck of a shopping trip, you don’t need to carry all your cards. Again, if your wallet was lost or stolen the crooks would have a field day with all those cards.
Sure, you may be financially protected but there are two things you may not be taking into consideration: one, it will take time to sort it out and get those bogus charges removed from your card and you have to prove they are bogus (just how are you going to do that?), and two, even if you don’t have to pay for them the credit card company will and don’t be naive, they will pass those costs on to all of us.
Just be more careful – it protects you and all the rest of us. Only carry one card at a time and keep the others locked up safe and sound with your social security card.
3. Shredders can be purchased for around $30 (maybe less). Keep one in your home and shred everything that comes into your house. Unfortunately, crooks aren’t stupid. They can take the most seemingly innocent of information and use it against you. Why not be proactive and keep everything away from them by using a quality cross cut shredder for every piece of mail you throw away?
4. If possible, take your trash out the day of trash pickup. Many crooks will go around on the night before a trash pickup and steal your trash. They will then sort through it looking for any information that will allow them to steal your identity.
Of course, if you use a shredder this will be impossible so you may be able to leave your trash at the curb overnight.
5. And one last point, don’t forget to keep yourself safe online too. This is also an easy target for thieves. Always keep your anti spyware and anti virus software turned on and up to date (don’t think you can rely on the software that came with your computer three years ago either, things change you want to make sure it is updated frequently).
Use strong passwords, stay away from birthdays and other obvious passwords and write the password down someplace safe like that safe where you keep your social security and credit cards.
Never click on a link in an email and then enter personal information into the site that link takes you to. Always contact your bank, utility company or credit card company directly if you get any type of email that says you need to enter personal information.
No company does that, if you get an email like that it is a scammer.
Look, today we know a lot about identity theft, we’ve been hearing these warnings for years. The fact of the matter is that it really is not that easy to be scammed today unless you are a wiling participant and following these tips will ensure that you’re not.