Identity Theft Prevention

 

Although the best way to prevent identity theft is to use an identity theft service, individuals can further reduce their chances of becoming identity theft victims by following these commonsense prevention tips:

  • Individuals should not carry unnecessary credit cards or identification cards in their purses or wallets; this will minimize the amount of information a thief can steal.
  • Individuals should photocopy all of the important documents in their wallets/purses and keep the copy in a secure place. This way, individuals can quickly call issuers if a credit or debit card is stolen.
  • Individuals should not click on links from financial institutions, even if they appear to be legitimate – these emails could be from identity thieves trying to obtain, or “phish” for, confidential information.
  • Make sure to install a firewall along with anti-virus and anti-spyware software. All three should be kept up-to-date. This will prevent viruses and thieves from accessing information.
  • Destroy/shred all checks, debit cards and credit cards upon closing an account.  Also, shred all junk mail before tossing them out – this will prevent identity thieves from finding confidential information in the trash.
  • Individuals should check their monthly bank statements in a timely fashion, and challenge any unauthorized purchases. If individuals do not receive their billing information promptly, they should notify any companies involved.
  • Individuals should request to have their social security numbers removed from their personal checks.
  • Individuals should minimize the exposure of their credit and social security numbers, and never give their social security numbers or account numbers out over the phone even if they made the call.
  • Individuals should be aware of their surroundings while using an ATM, making sure that no one is looking over their shoulders.
  • Individuals should never have their banks send new checks to their homes – thieves can easily snatch them. Instead, individuals should opt to pick up their new checks directly from the bank.

Because identity theft is one (1) of the largest and fastest growing crimes in the U.S., it is important for all individuals to protect against it.  The best way to do this is to sign up for a reputable identity theft protection service, and to protect all confidential information by following the above commonsense tips.  If individuals follow these tips, they will greatly reduce the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.