Identity theft has become a real problem in our day and age. With all the amazing technology out there, your every day person can steal someone’s identity. They don’t even have to be super savvy regarding the technology. It could be as simple as using a machine that collects credit card numbers. If you are concerned about having your identity stolen, then you are not paranoid, you are smart. An average of 15 million people in the United States alone have their identities stolen every year. Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself from identity fraud.
Commercial shredding services have been around for a long time for large businesses that have a lot of personal data and information. They’ve always known that they can’t keep that kind of information laying around or throw it in a trash can for anyone to find. But, what about you? Do you do any paper shredding or do you think only major corporations that hire commercial shredding services need to do that You should always shred anything that has any kind of information about you on it. Social security number, name, photocopies of your IDs like a passport or driver’s license, bank statements and credit card statements, utility bills, contracts and agreements; all of these should be shredded once they are done with. Basically, anything that could possibly be linked back to you needs to be shredded. Identity thieves know how to follow the chain back to find out what they need to know in order to steal an identity. Don’t fall prey to the idea that only commercial shredding services are necessary. Keep your own paper shredder around and then separate the pieces into different bags when you are throwing them away.
Credit Card Usage
When you are shopping online, you should designate one credit card that you use. This way, if someone steals your credit card information, you will know immediately which credit card it is so that you can cancel it. Also, using a credit card online is safer than a debit card. A debit card takes the money out immediately which makes it difficult to file a fraudulent claim. Credit cards protect themselves against fraud more than banks do so if you have a claim, you can be reimbursed immediately without to much set back while the claim is going through. Should the claim be denied for some reason then you will probably see the charge reappear on your credit card statement.
Make sure that you always use strong passwords with everything that you do online. Try not to use the same password for all of your accounts and switch up your log in ID’s as well. Don’t store your logins and passwords on your computer. Instead, write them down on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere secure. Make sure that you are updating and changing your passwords as frequently as you can. Social media is now also being frequently used to commit fraud. Be aware of how much information you are sharing online on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram Account and other outlets. Too much personal information can be put together to figure out an identity.
Always keep a close eye on your credit report. You can set up fraud alerts in order to catch suspicious behavior before it turns into anything disastrous. You are also eligible for a free credit check every year so make sure you take advantage of those as well. There are several apps available that will keep an eye on your credit report for you, but make sure that they have been sanctioned through reputable banking companies otherwise this in and of itself could be a scam.
If you think that you have had your identity stolen, you need to shut down all bank and credit accounts immediately. Change all of your passwords and file a complain with the Federal Trade Commission. Even if you’ve had your wallet or purse stolen, you should still take these steps no matter how extreme they seem. From commercial shredding services to holding your wallet tight- you need to make sure you are doing what it takes to protect yourself from any kind of identity theft.