10 Tips to help Prevent Identity Theft

The current estimate is that every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen. Don’t let this happen to you. There are ways you can help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.

Monitor your credit score: A change in your credit score is often the first indication you have that a thief is using your personal information, and the sooner you become aware of this the better your chances are of minimizing the damage.

Shred and destroy documents: So-called “dumpster diving” is one of the most common and effective methods that thieves use to steal your personal information. They search your trash for documents that contain your personal information and to find important numbers. Thwart identity thieves at this juncture by never throwing away documents containing important numbers without shredding them first. A pair of scissors works just as well as a shredder; after all, the sensitive information is often contained on one or two lines. Cut the important part out of each page, cut it up with your scissors, and then throw the documents away.

Don’t carry government IDs: To prevent accidental loss of sensitive and hard to replace identification, such as social security cards and passports, don’t leave the house with them unless necessary. When you do need to carry them with you, return them promptly afterwards to a safe place inside the home.

Ask questions before sharing your personal information: Do not automatically provide your personal information when requested at doctors’ offices, bureaucratic offices, or places of business. Make sure that the information is needed before you share it. Maybe only the last four digits of your social security number are needed. Asking questions first could help prevent accidental disclosure of your personal information.

Put a lock on your mailbox: Identity thieves will steal your personal information right out of your mailbox at your front door. Don’t make it this easy for them. Also, place a hold on your mail when you travel.

Shop smart when shopping on-line: On-line shopping is convenient, but before you enter your personal information be sure to look for the security seal and https in the URL. This can help stop you from being phished and disclosing your identity on a counterfeit website. Thieves will duplicate legitimate on-line storefronts and you could be inadvertently handing over to them the personal information they need to commit fraud.

Change your password often: Also, using those symbols and numbers and capitals will strengthen your password.

Stay alert for shoulder surfing: The prevalence of cameras and recorders in today’s mobile phones make this form of identity theft a growing threat. Thieves position themselves within sight or earshot of your latest credit application, and record your information for later use.

Protect your children’s information: More and more youth identities are being stolen so that thieves can commit employment or benefit-related fraud and get away with it for years before you even realize it.

Use an identity theft protection service: This is perhaps the best way to prevent the misuse of your personal information. For your convenience and peace of mind, you can choose a third-party service to do the work for you. In most cases, a service provides more advanced identity theft protection than you would be able to achieve on your own. These services guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft while you are a member, or they will spend the money necessary, sometimes up to one million dollars, to hire experts, lawyers, investigators or consultants to resolve the problem.

According to the CEO of a well-known identity protection firm, some of the most famous people in the world have been victims of identity theft. You might not be famous, but you also need to take measures against this fast growing crime.