10 Tips to help Prevent Identity Theft

Sadly to say along with the advancement in communications, advanced measures in stealing arrived as well. Identity Theft is a major concern these days. When your Identity has been stolen it can take years to clear up while costing you thousands and thousands of dollars. It can ruin your credit, cause you frustration and damage your financial reputation. Your financial reputation is not the only thing that can be damaged.

Your personal reputation can be damaged to the point; you could end up in jail or prison.  Unfortunately, this is not one of the main top ten problems listed in the detouring of Identity Theft. Think about it if someone gets your name and birth-date they can become you. Yes, that’s all it takes. There have been cases of people (the wrong people) jailed because of Identity Theft. The criminals commit a crime in a person’s name; therefore, police look for that person! If the criminal has taken over YOUR identity then YOU are the person the police are looking to arrest, not the John Doe that is just using your name.

Identity Theft is scary however, most the time (how) criminals get your information is very low tech; remember criminals are lazy people that don’t want to work. The easier it is for them to get what they need the better and the more likely they are to steal. Although, there are no guarantees in life there are some tips that will help you prevent your identity from being high-jacked.

Never give out information over the phone Never EVER trust communications on the Internet Watch who is behind you when writing a check or using a debit card/No printed info on checks Constantly check your bank accounts Check your credit reports When out in public watch your wallet or purse Rip up or shred any mail that comes in for loan apps…etc. Never throw prescriptions bottle in the trash with labels on them Never leave important information just laying out in your home Never carry or write down your social security number

Never give out information over the phone. It is amazing how many people will answer the phone and give out information. This is one of the easiest ways criminals get your info right from their living room. If someone calls you and says they are from XYZ Company and they need to just verify your account number or social security or other various information Do Not do it. Tell them you do not give out that kind of information over the phone. If by some chance it is a legitimate call the caller will be happy to tell you an alternate way to provide the information in a say way.

Do not EVER trust communications on the Internet! This actually happen to me a few years back and caused me a lot of trouble getting it straighten out. I was on Skype when a message from a (supposed) friend popped up. (Skype is a messaging/call center, where you can write text and talk or call on what is called a Skype phone which is actually your computer.) Skype is much like any other IM on the Internet you add people that request it to your friends list then you can talk send files or share a URL. This particular person and I had been friends for some time. We would talk share pictures, music and other web-sites. Therefore when a box popped up one day with a web address on there I thought nothing of clicking on it. Boy, was that a mistake! In a split second my computer was invaded. Someone had set up a virus link that infested my computer. I had bank accounts, passwords, birth-dates and many other sensitive things on there. I ended up having to change everything, including my bank account.

What had happened was my friend’s computer had been hacked and had sent me that message through their Skype Portal making it look as if it had come straight from my friend. Now, there are a million and one ways or more to hack your computer or get information from you on the Internet. You must be forever vigilant when using a computer.  Never just click on a link. Copy and paste it into your browser then open.  Make sure you have a good virus and security system on your computer that way if the URL is bogus it should be caught before there is any harm to you. You must keep in mind though nothing is full-proof!

You need to watch carefully those behind you in a line at the store if you are writing a check or using a debit card. Protect the line of eye site when punching in any pin numbers. In addition, make sure your card numbers are not visible to the people around you. There are people that have photographic memories and could take one quick look at your card and remember everything. There might not be many that can do this but why take the chance? Your checks in some cases have way too much information on them and people around you could gain information about you from them beware when writing a check. The best thing to do on your check is to not put any information on there like DL numbers, phone, and birthday  this will help prevent information theft.

Constantly check your bank account statements. How many times do they come in and you don’t even take the time to look? Check for discrepancies in your account if you have any concerns call your bank it’s their job to help you.  

You should also check your credit reports. If you get a credit application in the mail like so many of us do, a thief can fill it out and send it in all in your name. If you keep a check on your credit report you will know if someone does this because it will be posted.

This is basic stuff but be sure and keep a watch on your purse or wallet when you are out and about. Pick pockets are good at what they do and they have many ways of lifting your personal belongings.

Also, rip up or shred any mail that comes in with information on it that you are going to throw away. Dumpster Diving is a wide spread practice among thieves. You would be shocked what someone can learn about you from just your trash.

Never leave important information just lying around your house. There is always the chance of contract type workers being in there and coming across it making it handy for them to steal your information.

The last thing we have to cover is very important because anyone in the United States even children now have to have social security cards. Never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. As a matter of fact, did you know that it is actually against the law to carry it? I don’t think many people know is but indeed if you carry your SS card you are breaking the law. Be safe and just use common sense.