This guest post is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.
No one can accurately pin down the number of families affected by identity theft. NBC News puts the figure between 25 and 50 million over a five-year time period. Preventing it from happening to you is much better than trying to solve it after the fact. It only takes a bit of discipline and new habits to protect your identity and your finances. If you can make a conscious effort to keep your information safe, eventually safekeeping your identify becomes a lifestyle instead of a burden.
Protect Personal Documents
Your wallet and purse are vulnerable, especially if you carry unnecessary documents. Remove any documents or paperwork that shows your social security number. Keep your driver’s license separate from your wallet, as it is the primary identification document. Those with access to it can quickly become you. Do not carry blank checks or deposit slips with you. With little personal data in your wallet, it becomes harder to falsify your identity.
Protect Your Mail
Protect your mail from theft by removing it from your postal box as soon as possible. Mail left overnight is vulnerable to someone stealing credit card applications and your bills. If you live in an area where this is a problem the inconvenience of a post office box may be the best option. Shred any discarded mail, bills, legal documents, and other paperwork with your information on it before they go into the trash. Otherwise, a complete picture of your finances can be picked up simply by going through your garbage.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Accounts
Do not let others have access to the accounts or data such as the PIN. Make sure you keep your checkbook up to date so you know how many checks you have written and for what amount. Verify each statement every month and look for anomalies. If you are not sure why a credit or other item is on a bill call customer service and ask. The companies would much rather help you through a false alarm than have someone get your information and use your card. Keep a listing of all your accounts and their cancellation numbers so that you can quickly stop the potential misuse of them if you lose your wallet or if your card gets stolen.
Be Careful With Giving Information Online
In today’s world, many of your purchases will be made online, and you probably manage most of your accounts and services over the Internet as well. While this is convenient, it can also make you vulnerable for identity theft. Most of the time, any site that asks for your bank account number or social security number means that there’s something fishy going on. Also, when you are making purchases online, make sure it is through a secure server. Sometimes, you can see if a site has any security threats, so make sure you pay close attention to what kind of server your payment will be going through. It is up to you to discern between sites you can trust and others that could put your information in jeopardy.
As you can see, it isn’t too difficult to safeguard your information, making it tricky for someone to steal your identity. Usually it is carelessness and a lack of attention that will lead to problems with identity theft. If you are keeping a close eye on things, you will realize right away when something is off. Get into a good routine of monitoring your accounts, documents, and online information, and you’ll get to keep your identity all to yourself, instead of sharing it with thieves.