Identity theft has moved from the headlines into the mainstream. Regular people you never hear about are finding that others have opened up credit accounts in their name or have used their identity as a reference to purchase homes. Identity theft has become a problem that might affect you, or someone in your family in the very near future. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent this from happening to you.
1 – Buy a shredder. Shred every single document that you intend to throw away that has any personal information on it. Shredders are available at any store that sells office supplies and are relatively cheap.
2 – Don’t use credit cards in restaurants. In fact, don’t ever use your credit card in any place where they take your card somewhere to another place where you can’t see what they are doing.
3 – Get online protection. Buy and install one of the anti-virus software programs for your computer. In addition to preventing viruses, they make it almost impossible for people to gain access to your computer in search of information you may have stored on your hard-drive. In addition, also use the delete history feature that comes with your browser. This gets rid of any information that you may have typed in when making purchases online that was saved on your hard drive.
4 – Don’t give out your social security number. Obviously, there are some people you have to give your social security number; your place of employment, your bank, the DMV, etc. But beyond that, just don’t do it, even it is seems annoying to others. They don’t need it and you’ll only be putting yourself at risk.
5 – Don’t believe incoming e-mail or telephone calls. Don’t give out personal information to anyone that calls you. If someone such as a person from your bank, or an agent of the government calls, tell them you will only give your information on outgoing calls. Then call them back at a number you have found on your own in the phone book or other legitimate source.
6 – Only shop online at legitimate places. In short, only use your credit card to make purchases online with businesses that you heard of prior to going online. Generally, nationally known brands are the safest. And as with incoming e-mail or phone calls, only purchase from places you found on your own not by clicking on a link that came to you.
7 – Use cash whenever you can. If you buy things with cash, no one can steal your identity, simple as that.
8 – Keep your name out of the phone book. People use your name in the phone book to look you up on the web. Then, they use that information when calling you to get you to believe they are a legitimate source. It’s better to use just an initial in the phone book, or keep your number unlisted.
9 – Don’t use your real name online. Whenever you post to blogs, or tweet someone or anything else on the Internet, don’t use your real name or give other details about yourself that others can use to figure out who you are.
10 – Don’t carry around your PIN #’s, social security card, passport or anything else that can be lost or stolen from your wallet or purse. Personal information belongs at home in a locked box.
These ten sensible tips on how to keep people from stealing your identity can be used by pretty much anyone alive today, to keep their information private so that others can’t use it for themselves. If you have any credit cards, or ever shop online, I hope you will note these tips to help keep your identity safe and your finances secure. Good luck.