Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Identity Theft
While identity theft may not be totally preventable, there are a few things you can do to lower your chances of becoming a victim to this crime. Here are some ways that you can reduce your risk of identity theft.
Use a paper shredder. So many times I've seen people just rip up mail and throw it into the trashcan. A paper shredder will shred the paper so finely that an identity thief will not be able to identify what is on those papers. The best kind of paper shredder is a cross cut shredder because it cuts paper both horizontally and vertically so that it looks like confetti. Whenever you get any kind of mail, even magazines or catalogs, you should remove your name and address and shred it in a paper shredder. You can also shred outdated credit cards or an old photo id in most paper shredders.
Reduce The Amount Of Cards You Carry
Do not carry a lot of credit cards with you when you go out. Try to carry only the cards that you think you will need for that day. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, then it won't be as big of a hassle to cancel one or two cards as it would to cancel six or seven.
Beware Of Scammers
If someone calls you on the phone or sends you an email and asks for personal information and you are not familiar the company or business, do not give out any information to them. There are scammers out there who will call you to claim a prize or say that they would like to talk to you about your credit card or lans and then they will ask you for important information. Do not give it to them. Never give out your social security number to anyone. If you did not enter in any sweepstakes, then you most likely did not win any prize.
Write A List Of All Your Cards
Write a list of all your credit cards and the phone numbers on the back of the card so that you know what cards you have. I know someone who lost their purse with about ten credit cards inside of it. The woman told me she couldn't even remember what cards she had in her purse and she panicked. I told her that once she got new cards, she should write down a list of all the cards she has as well as the phone numbers to customer service. Writing a list of all your cards and phone numbers can be helpful in case they become lost or stolen.
Immediate Action For Lost Or Stolen Cards
If your credit or debit cards get lost or stolen, immediately call the credit or debit card company and inform them. This way they can put a stop on your old card so that it can no longer be used. They will then issue you a new card with a new credit or debit card number.
Keep PIN Numbers Safe
If you have PIN numbers for your debit or credit cards, make sure that you do not carry them with you. Keep them in a safe place or try your best to memorize them. You should think of a PIN number that is hard for someone else to figure out but easy for you to remember. If you feel that you must carry your PIN number around with you as a reminder, then you may want to divide the number up into two parts. In other words, if your PIN number is 3390, instead of writing 3390 on a piece of paper with the word PIN number, write 33 on one side and 90 on the other. You can also think of other creative ways to write it out so that it doesn't look like a pin number. In other words, do not make it obvious that it is a PIN number.
Check Credit Reports
Check your credit reports and any billing statements that you get. Make sure that there are no charges that you did not make on your statements. If there happens to be a charge that you are not familiar with, contact the company and let them know so they can assist you in handling the issue.
Use A Locked Safe Box
Keep all important documents and records, especially items such as birth certificates, financial documents and social security cards in a safe place, such a locked safe box. Keep the box locked so that no one else can get your information. A safe box is also helpful for storing these important items so that you know where they are whenever you might need them.
If you shop or pay your bills online, make sure that the website you are using is secure. Usually there will a be a little symbol somewhere on the website that will say that the site is secure. Only make purchases from places that you trust when shopping online. If you are unsure of a website, do an online search to find out if the company is reputable and to ensure that their website is secure.
Anti Spyware Software
Use anti spyware software on your computer. Make sure you take steps to prevent hackers from getting into your computer and stealing your personal information. Installing spy ware or anti virus software on your computer will give you more prevention against identity theft.