Identity theft has been one of the worst crimes happening all over the world. People pose as other people to get something, usually the money of the people they pose as.
If we think of the security measures being taken to hide our Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other vital information, it is quite alarming how people still obtain this information and uses them to steal a lot from us!
Here are some ways to prevent identity theft:
1) Put a lock on your home mailbox
If the mailbox you keep is readily accessible by anyone, better buy a lock for that. One root cause of identity theft is that strangers steal your mail, gather as much information as they can on you, then pose as you when doing transactions to get valuable things you own.
2) Rent a PO Box from the Post Office
If you do not have a mailbox at home, and you are usually away on trips, rent a PO Box from the local post office. Always have your mails addressed to your PO Box address to prevent others from having access to your mail.
Deposit your outgoing mail to your PO Box. Also, request a vacation hold from the Post Office for your mail if you will be away for more than 2 days.
3) Don't give financial details over the phone
The usual strategy is when people pose as some charitable foundation or a telemarketer for some online store or TV shop, and then they ask for your credit card details. Give your details to them, and you can kiss your credit line and history goodbye.
4) Have a private phone number
It pays to have your own private number. You will be getting only calls from the people you know, and from people who got your number directly from you.
Make sure that you give your number only to trustworthy people. This will minimize telemarketers and other fraud artists from calling you and possibly stealing your identity.
5) Store your PINs in a safe place
It we know it is difficult to memorize the PINs of your ATM cards, credit cards, and debit cards. It will save you a lot of trouble if you store your PINs in a safe place that is away from your plastic cards.
If a thief steals your plastic card, he will not be able to use it after a few unsuccessful attempts at your PIN as the system will lock your card. It may be an inconvenience for you as well, but that will prevent your money from being stolen.
6) Photocopy both sides of your wallet's contents
Make sure that you have a photocopy of all contents of your wallet. If your wallet is stolen, you can easily report it to the proper authorities.
Make sure you report the theft to the proper companies, (e.g. Social Security, credit card company etc.) as soon as possible to prevent the thieves from using your personals.
7) Carefully choose your passwords
Thieves can easily determine your passwords, especially for your online accounts. Make sure your password is very difficult to determine, usually a combination of letters and numbers only you will remember, or something that will not be associated with you.
8) Always obtain a credit card report
It is always a good move to have a monthly report regarding your credit card. You will never know what purchases may pop up on your bill. Call the following major bureaus to have your monthly report:
Equifax: P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
For Fraud Alerts, call: 800-525-6285
Experian: P.O. Box 2002 Allen TX 75013
for Fraud Alerts, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Trans Union: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
For Fraud Alerts, call: 800-680-7289
9) Keep your records and personal papers in a safe place
Thieves can get into your home, and if they find your personal papers like loan applications, birth certificate etc., they will use these information to steal anything from you.
Make sure these are in a safety deposit box where only you know its location. If not, place these in a safety deposit box in a bank.
10) Have a good paper shredder
Make sure you have access to a powerful paper shredder, usually the crosscut type. Pre-filled charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and mail credit offers should be immediately shredded, NOT TORN TO PIECES, when they will be discarded.
11) Proper Use of Credit Cards
Do not sign at the back of your credit card. If possible, always have a photo laminated into your credit card so that a thief cannot use it.
Also, do not use your credit card in establishments like restaurants, where your card will be out of your sight. Do not give out any details regarding your credit card.
12) Be Smart Online
Use encrypted or secure servers whenever you go online. Do not transact business with unknown websites. Do not open files sent to you by strangers. Make sure your virus database is regularly updated. Use firewall programs to block spyware and malicious advertisements from pop-ups in certain websites.