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10 Ways To Avoid Identity Theft
1. Only Carry Necessary Items Only put items you’ll need in your wallet or purse One credit card is usually enough to carry around Never, under any circumstances should you keep in your wallet: Social Security Card Copy of your birth certificate More than 1 or 2 credit cards Wikipedia/ WalletMpegMan
2. Know exactly what’s in your wallet If your wallet is stolen, it’ll make “damage control” much easier if you know all items in the wallet You should have the numbers and expiration dates of the credit card(s) in your wallet written down in a safe place Make photocopies of some of the items in your wallet, like Your driver’s license Health insurance cards Other IDs Flickr/ knuck13s
3. Be careful about your mail You need to be cautious about what you send and receive in the mail Never send through the mail Your Social Security Number Bank account numbers or PIN numbers Identifying information like your date of birth Requesting paperless statements from banks and credit cards makes your mailbox a less vulnerable place Consider buying a locking mailbox (pictured) These are available at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s www.retrorenovation.com
4. Beware of phishing scams Just because you receive an email from your bank doesn’t mean it really came from your bank It is completely fine to call your bank to verify the origin of any email communications Bear in mind that most legitimate bank and credit card emails will never ask for personal information Public domain
5. Skimmers and cameras Be very cautious about using your credit/debit cards in unmonitored places like Gas pumps Non-bank ATMs Self-serve kiosks Thieves install small devices on these card readers which steal your information Cameras are also used often to capture PIN numbers being entered Public domain
6. Be careful on the phone Thieves are known to call, pretending to be a representative from your bank or credit card company Never give out personal information on a call you didn’t originate Public domain
7. Use complex passwords and PINs The 5 most commonly used passwords of 2013 were 123456, “password”, 12345678, “querty”, and abc123 The most common PIN numbers are 1234, 1111, and 0000 In fact, by simply guessing the 10 most common PIN numbers, thieves could hack more than 20% of debit cards! If your password or PIN is listed above, you are ASKING to become a fraud victim! Use a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters (like ! And ?) that has absolutely nothing to do with your life Example: a45$1!b6r Public domain
8. Buy a paper shredder Believe it or not, there are thieves who would love to dig through your garbage and find personal information Shred or otherwise destroy any piece of paper with Social security numbers Credit card information Your date of birth Employment information (like pay stubs) Bank information Other commonly used identifying information like your mother’s maiden name Public domain
9. Photos are the best identifiers If possible, request credit and debit cards with your photo on them Many companies offer this at no extra charge At least try to get your photo on the cards you carry around
10. Freeze your credit Freezing your credit makes it impossible for anyone (including you) to open a new credit account However, it is relatively easy to temporarily lift the freeze when you need to This is the most powerful credit security tool at your disposal
Your credit card may soon be completely worthless!