One of prime axioms in life is just when you think it couldnít happen to you, it does. This is a sad fact, and even more so when you consider crime of identity theft. You take years to establish your financial and individual identity and reputation, and in one moment illegal act of another washes it all away wreaking havoc on your financial life. The reasons for identity theft are as varied as circumstances of unsuspecting victims. There are ways to protect yourself. Being diligent and using common sense can go a long way in preventing this troublesome event from happening in your life. Following are some steps to consider:
1. Protecting your information.
Keep your social security card separate from your other identification, leaving it at home if at all possible. Have a sheet with all of your credit card numbers and companies listed and in a safe place, so in event of theft you can call quickly to cancel accounts.
2. Limit preprinted check information
Checks are another potential bonanza for an identity thief. Even though it may make checking out a little harder, only put your basic information (name, address, maybe a phone number) on your checks. This will prevent an ID thief from getting your drivers license or social security number off a check left lying around.
3. Properly dispose of sensitive information after it no longer is needed.
The identity thief is not above digging in a dumpster for information that can get them something on someone elseís tab. Credit card and banking statements, applications for credit cards, phone bills and utility bills all need to be shredded to prevent anyone from getting your information. Checkbooks need to be treated same to get rid of your account numbers on them.
4. Share sensitive information with care
Giving information out over phone is sometimes required for security purposes, and some companies that call you might ask you to verify personal information to make sure that they are speaking to right person. If you are unsure of callerís identity, erring on side of caution is advised. This can prevent inadvertent sharing of sensitive information with someone that has misrepresented their intentions or identity. Ask for a call back number and check it out if you have any doubts at all.
5. Avoid easily decipherable passwords
When choosing a password for your sensitive accounts try to avoid any word and or number combinations that can be easily discovered. Some examples include your motherís maiden name, your house number or birth date. If possible, place security questions, to which only you know answers on your account.