How to Avoid Identity Theft?
OK, explain to me how Avoid Identity Theft?
The answer to this question is yes, there are some simple solutions to help to deter and prevent identity theft. But like anything else, you must be willing to do them.
Here is a list of categories that e will look at for practical solutions:
• Inside the Home
• Outside the Home
• The Phone
• The Internet
• Monitoring – Bank and Credit Card Statements
Inside the Home
If you’re like me, you probably have tons of paper at home, bank statements, bills, receipts, pre-approved credit cards, credit card mail, junk mail offers personally addressed. My point here is you have lots if information that contains personal information. To avoid “dumpster diving” which we discussed in another article in Types of Identity Fraud, it’s critical that you take the right action to protect yourself.
1. Invest in a paper shredder. These are not expensive and you can probably pick one up cheap at Costco, Sam’s Club or Office Depot on sale.
2. Shred anything that is personalized and has an address on it.
3. Don’t ever leave your mail in your mail box unattended. Track your regular mail, if you suddenly stop receiving a bank statement, credit card statement of magazine subscription it’s a sign you need to check what’s happening.
4. Review all you’re your bank and credit card statements for unusual or suspicious purchases or charges. You might be surprised to know that many people don’t even check the statements each month.
5. Move as much of your banking and credit card activity online with a secrure website and secure browser.
6. Check out software for your computer that can help protect your computer, passwords, etc.
Outside the Home
With a few changes you can minimize identity theft and reduce your chance of attracting some criminal who would like to steal your identity.
1. Do not carry all of your credit cards with you. Not smart.
2. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet. This is such a key document – keep in a safe place and if fact you may want to scan this an place a copy in a digitally secured file for safe keeping.
3. When paying for a credit card transaction, make sure you can see your card while the business person swipes the cared.
4. In using a keypad entering your PIN number (cover your hand ) to eliminate someone who might be trying to observe your number.
5. The most obvious way identities are stolen – is the old fashion way stealing wallets and or purses. Be careful of where you are and what you’re doing. If your wallet or purse is stolen its important to immediately file a police report and notify both the credit card and financial institutions as well as the drivers license bureau (DMV). Time is of the essence with this happens.
1. Register your phone number to the Do Not Call list (donotcall.gov), this eliminate most people who use the phone to cold call and solicit. This does not apply to charities and certain political surveys.
2. Never, ever give your credit card over the phone unless you called the company first.
3. Beware of charities who call on the phone seeking donations, check them out first and get a number to call them back.
On all internet browsing activity practice safe surfing practices.
1. Make sure that you using an updated browser that has adequate security built in. Other than Internet Explorer there a number of great browsers to look at including Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
2. Be cautious of all free software sites, as many of these “free sites” have spyware built in to their software. Spyware are programs that monitor your activity, they maybe harmless or not.
3. Only use “free or shared software” from trusted sites that are free of spyware.
4. Use and keep updated good Antivirus software. There are a number of ‘free versions” available today that are quite advanced such as AVG or Avast.
5. Highly recommend that you also install spyware like Superantispyware. In today’s world antispyware is as important as antivirus software today. Antispyware removes advertising that is embedded on your computer that you may not know exists.
7. Since emails have become mainstream we all receive lots of emails on companies that we have opted in to. In other articles we have discussed the need to beware of “phishing” and “email hoaxes”. Today’s criminal is likely to use any and all company’s logos to appear legitimate all for the purpose of stealing your identity. Today’s email software has become smart and usually will find these and place in your “spam” folder.
8. Be careful of downloading any unsolicited attachment. Many attachments contain virus’s or Trojans designed to take control of your computer. These seem innocent and can appear text files, zip files, photo’s or even pdf’s. However, once you download and open these, the virus or Trojan is unleashed on your computer. It’s very possible that these escape detection from your antivirus because of the way they are packaged.
9. However, some may still get through. Beware of any email regardless who it’s from, that asks to have you enter and or revalidate your login and or password. Don’t be fooled by these schemes.
Monitoring – Bank and Credit Card Statements
1. Where you receive an online statement from your bank or credit card or a paper statement. It is important that you review your monthly transactions and or purchases.
2. Be ready to challenge any un-documented charge to your account quickly and or ask for proof. In most online bank systems that should have the signed check available for viewing online.
3. Online statements a best practice would be to store these in an encrypted folder on your email server.
4. Offline statements need to be securely stored or shredded. As we have discussed in other articles, 25% of identity thefts are due to personal information obtained through “dumpster diving”.
5. At least once a year you should check your credit score with one or more of the credit agencies. You can do this by going to Annual Free Credit Report online.
Return to the top - How to Avoid Identity Theft
Back to How to Prevent Identity Theft
Back to the Home Page