When it comes to identity theft, there are many things that you can do to protect both your good name and your hard earned credit. Thieves cannot get your information unless you supply it to them. The best way to prevent identity theft is to simply protect your information. The thieves aren’t really getting smarter, we’re simply asking to have our identity stolen with some of the ways we handle our personal information. To avoid having your identity stolen, you must simply learn how to better guard your personal information.
Don’t Carry Sensitive Information
Sensitive information such as your credit card numbers, social security number, and bank account numbers should not be written down and carried with you where ever you go. Those things are supposed to stay in the home, in a safe place. Of course you should carry your credit card with you, but try to limit the number of credit cards that you carry just in case you lose your wallet or purse.
There is no need to carry around your social security card unless you know that you will need it on a specific day. If you haven’t memorized your social security number, take it out now and memorize it. Once thieves have a hold of your social security number, they only need your address to start opening accounts. By carrying your social security card in your purse or wallet, you simply increase your chances of becoming a victim if your wallet is ever lost.
Limit File Sharing Folders
File sharing sounds like a fun and innocent thing to do but it can also be an open invitation to having your identity stolen. A lot of people simply don’t specify which folder they would like to share with others, thus leaving sensible information available to anyone at anytime.
If you use some type of file sharing program, make sure that you specify which folder you want to share. Do not store documents that contain your name, address, social security number, banking information, or credit card numbers in your shared folder. You will not believe the number of people accidentally leave their entire hard drives open to millions of people.
Clean Your Computer
Before you get rid of your old computer make sure that you do one simple thing, erase the entire hard drive. A lot of people simply throw away their old computers without destroying sensible information. If an identity thieve gets a hold of your old computer, they can simply search the hard drive for social security numbers, addresses, banking information and more.
The safest thing to do before getting rid of a computer is to format the entire hard drive(s). By formatting the hard drive, you erase every single file that is stored on the disk. Make sure that you format the hard drive once you are sure that you will not need the information anymore, or once backups have been made on the new computers.
Limit Information on Checks
Checks are very convenient; they allow you to move money without actually handling cash. But checks can also be a good way for your information to be stolen. A lot of times, people write their social security numbers on the back of the checks. If have the habit of doing this, please stop now! Writing your social security number on the back of a check increases the chances of your identity being stolen. Remember that you are not the only person who will see or touch that check; many people will see and handle your check before it is deposited into your account.
Watch out for Phishing Emails
Scammers are now using emails to try to get your personal information. Phishing is the act of tricking someone into giving them confidential information or tricking them into doing something that they normally wouldn’t do or shouldn’t do. I’m pretty sure that you have received a phishing email at one point or another. Once you click on the link in the email, you are taken to a fake website that looks exactly like the authentic. When you fill out the form, your information is sent to the scammer and boom, you become a victim.
People fall victim to this everyday. Scammers continue to send out these emails because they are very effective. Remember that almost no company will send you an email asking you to change your password. If you are in doubt, never click on the link that’s in the email. Always visit the site directly from your browser. If the message is true, you will be reminded when you sign on.
Protect Your Pin Number
Don’t do what a lot of people do. The worst thing to with a pin number is to write it down. Pin numbers are short for a reason, so that you can easily remember them. Don’t carry your pin number in your wallet or anywhere on you, and best of all, don’t write it on the back of your card. Yes, many people do that.
If you take these simple precautions, you will greatly decrease your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. Your personal finance and information is vital. Protect it well and you won’t have to worry about someone opening credit card accounts in your name.