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Basic Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft is a growing problem throughout the world. Every single day, id theft targets thousands, if not millions of consumers. Many times the efforts of identity thieves fail thanks to the hundreds of security measures in effect throughout the industry. However, it only takes that one time for an id thief to get a hold of personal details and wreck havoc on your financial and even social life.
Ways to Prevent ID Theft
There are hundreds and hundreds of internet articles written about preventing ID theft. The problem is: most people have covered the basics explained in those articles, and they forget about simple little things that can create big problems. Here are some tips that I hope get you to think about ways to manage your identity.
- Secure your Facebook account. Stop sharing personal details online that don't need to be shared. For example, when a criminal has a full name, a current city, and a birth date (all things shared on Facebook), identity theft is made one hundred times easier. Follow this guide to truly lock down your Facebook profile.
- Shred that junk mail. Over the last few months, I have gotten at least 5 dozen credit card offers. Every one that I have received has been partially filled out with some of my basic information, and a "special code" that promises to expedite the process. While the likelyhood of someone being able to open a credit card account in your name with just those details is slim, it isn't impossible. So shred it!
- Use secure passwords online. If you think about it, you're entire internet experience is only as secure as your weakest password. If your bank account password is 50 characters long, it still isn't secure if the email account it is linked to has a password of "123pass." Read this article about making truly secure passwords.
- Be careful online, and check the sender of those emails. Here is a great article that explains how to spot a fake / scam email. It's amazing how real some of them look.
- Never share any passwords, and don't use the same one for multiple accounts
- Use a virtual credit card number. Some credit card companies, like Citi, have a special feature available for credit card owners that allows them to generate a temporary credit card number for use online. It basically links to your real number, without ever exposing it. If it gets stolen, it doesn't matter because it expires quickly after you use it.
- Use cash at shady places. While you may think that credit cards are secure, they are truly only as secure as the network the numbers travel on. If you go to a store that is run down and looks like a mess, I doubt they have much money to secure their internet lines and credit card machines. Use cash at places like this.
- Use a lock pattern on your phone. You have no idea how many personal secrets, passwords, logins, etc. are stored on your mobile phone. Install software on them that allows you to remotely wipe the data if they were to get stolen. Also, enable the keyguard which requires a password before the phone can be used.
- Use electronic communications when possible. Many banks now offer paperless statements (read about going paperless) and other "e-offers." Besides saving money on postage, these are a lot more secure then sending financial information through the mail. Do you guard your mailbox?