Millions of people fall victim to identity theft each year. The number seems to be decreasing the past couple of years, but even one is too many in my opinion. To prevent the possible emotional and financial stress of having your identity stolen, just praying that the government and credit report agencies will further improve their system isn’t enough.
Below are 45 precautions you can take to prevent identity theft. Incorporate these into your way of life to greatly reduce the chances of fraud knocks on your door.
- >Never give out your social security number unless it’s absolutely necessary for what you need to do.
- Don’t carry your social security card anywhere.
- Get a paper shredder so no one can piece together important information (at the very least, rip up the documents yourself).
- Protect those PIN numbers – Cover the number pad when you are entering pins at the ATM machine and never tell anyone about them. Also, never use something like 1234 as your pin please.
- Pay a little more for an unlisted number – Again, fewer telemarketers mean fewer chances that you can become a target.
- Try to separate your personal information as much as possible – Don’t write your SSN on your checks or keeping your driver licenses with your SSN card. If something is lost, at least the crooks only have one piece of information and not everything about you.
- Don’t Trust Anyone Over the Phone – Never give anything out over the phone. It’s just too dangerous.
- Do not keep any sensitive information in your car – Credit cards, statements, checks are a nono.
- Buy a safe – Better yet, get a safety deposit box at the bank where you can put important documents.
- Educate Others – If everyone teaches others about protections, there will be fewer identity thefts and fewer people who will try to do this because it’s not as lucrative.
- Be Alert – Think about how your identity can be stolen whenever you are dealing with your own sensitive information.
- Be Clam and Patient – Don’t do something with checks, credit cards, SSN numbers, etc when you are in a rush.
- Blank Spaces – Always draw a line on blank spaces: On credit card receipts, always write your amount with a $ symbol followed immediately with the numbers. On checks, always draw a line after you write the amount in English (or in numbers).
Credit Report and Monitoring
- Sign up with a credit monitoring company.
- Freezing Your Credit – You can call the credit report agencies to freeze your credit so no one can ever apply for a credit card or get a loan under your name until you unfreeze it. It will cost money but the peace of mind might be worth it.
- Get free credit reports so you can check them (remember that if you don’t cancel your membership, they will charge you a monthly fee)
Knows Your Credit Cards
- Always know how many credit cards you have. While most people believe that cutting up used credit cards and not canceling them is better for your credit score, you run the danger of having others make fake cards as you lose track of how many accounts you have opened.
- Credit Card Receipts – Never leave them behind even if it doesn’t have the full credit card number. Gas stations, restaurants are the two places I see receipts all the time.
- Routinely check your credit card statement to make sure you really made all the purchases the transaction history shows.
- Instead of signing the back of the credit card, write “Check ID”.
- If your credit card company offers it, opt for the card that has your photo on it.
- If possible, choose to self pay so fewer people touch your card.
- And when you self pay, look for signs that the machine has been tampered with and avoid the ones that seem compromised.
- Create a list of phone numbers and credit cards that you have…