Identity theft is the fastest growing crime today. Millions of people are affected every year and billions of dollars are lost to fraudulent activity. It's more important than ever for all of us to be diligent. If your identity is stolen it doesn't just affect you, it affects all of us since the companies pass on those lost dollars to all of us in the form of higher fees.
Take this identity theft information and use it to protect yourself as well as help keep costs down for all of us:
- Don't give out your personal information. It's easy to get caught off guard when some quick talking person calls you on the phone and says there is a problem with your account, could you please verify your information?
But stop and think, if the bank, credit card company or utility company is calling you, than why would they need your information? They are calling you, don't they already have your information? Yes, they do. It's most likely a scam, hang up and call the company yourself.
- Shred your documents. It only takes a minute and you may be surprised to learn how much damage can be done with some simple information. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Don't carry your social security card with you. Also don't put your drivers license number on your checks. With your birth date and your drivers license number a thief can do a lot of damage. Don't make it easy for them, keep your information to yourself.
- You get to check each of the three credit bureaus every year, for free. Do it. Take full advantage and if you see something that looks wrong, contact the credit bureau right away.
- It's a hassle, I know, but look over your credit card and bank statements thoroughly every month. Finding a mistake can be a sign that someone is using your identity.
- Keep your computer protected. Keep all your anti virus and anti spyware up to date and run scans frequently. Keep firewalls active all the time.
- Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that you can click on a link in an email and that you will be at the site of your bank, or credit card company and start filling in personal information. There are ways of masking the website address and making it appear you are on a different site.
Use this identity theft information as a starting point. You can always ask your bank and credit card company for more help, after all, if you can protect your identity you can help them from losing a lot of money.