How To Avoid Being The Victim Of Identity Theft
Learning how to prevent identity theft will reduce your risk to becoming the victim. If you are the victim of identity theft, the sooner you discover the fraud, the easier and quicker it will be to clean up your credit and regain your financial health. Below are some tips to keep your credit safe from predators.
Credit Cards v. Debit Cards
Consumers have more protection with credit cards than debit cards, as debt cards are linked directly to your checking account. Avoid using debit cards when online shopping. Monitor your accounts online closely. Reduce the number of credit and/or debit cards you carry in your wallet. Take credit card or debit card receipts with you, do not throw them in the public trash.
Social Security Number
You social security number is your key to your identity. Avoid giving out your social security number over the phone, by mail or on the internet. Only release your social security number when required (i.e. tax forms, employment background check, banking, etc.). Do not carry your social security card in your wallet.
Obtain a credit report at least once per year from 1 of the 3 credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax or Trans Union. Your credit report will show the signs of identity theft, including credit cards you did not open or inquires you did not request.
Passwords and PINS:
Do not use your birth date or last 4 digits of your social security number in selecting your passwords or PINS. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, consecutive numbers or anything else that could easily be discovered by thieves. For more added protection use special characters, numbers and/or a combination of upper and lower case letters. The longer the password, the more difficult it is for a hacker to break.
Do not write your passwords down. Do your best to memorize them.
Your trash is a thief’s treasure. Shred all person information, including bank statements, credit card statements, and/or any documents which contain personal information which someone could use to steal your identity.