Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

No one thinks that identity theft will happen to them, but if it happens, it can have long-term consequences. Not only is it jarring to consider that someone has assumed your identity for their personal financial gain, but it can be even more unsettling to consider that someone can commit crimes using your name, social security number, and money.

Theft, banking fraud, illegal immigration and terrorism are just a few of the crimes that may be committed using your personal information, so it’s imperative that you take steps to protect yourself.

The Paper Trail.

Even though many companies are trying to go “paperless,” most of us still leave a trail of personal information on credit card and banking statements, insurance forms, DMV notices, and assorted mail that we don’t even consider.

Gas station and store receipts and labels on prescription bottles can also hold important information that should not be discarded in public. Make it a practice to shred all financial and health care related documents, and any mail received that could contain any details that could be used.

If you are sending checks in the mail for payment, consider using the post office, instead of letting it sit in your personal mailbox waiting to be picked up.

Your Digital Presence.

We are all so accustomed to using the Internet to search for people and things. We can buy everything from household goods to insurance, and have gotten accustomed to sharing our credit card information.

We constantly retrieve information and assume that our personal information is safe, but we may not consider the most basic holes in our security. For instance, consider the security question many of us answer to unlock our private information. “Your mother’s maiden name” might seem like a good clue to help you retrieve a password, but it would be easy for a hacker to find that name using social media and gain access to any number of personal accounts.

This is just one example of how our online presence can be used against us. Between social media, online shopping and banking, and health care management, we share more personal information than we might realize. Keep an eye on your privacy settings and change passwords often. Be aware of location-based apps that can alert others to where you are in real-time.

If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, please contact your local police department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission immediately.