Everyone suffers from Identity Theft. There are some ways to help prevent your identity from being stolen; some are common sense, and others you might not think of.
Watch Your Password Use. When using passwords, it’s best to use ones that are not easily guessed. If your dog’s name and your birthday are the only ones that you can remember, its time to create a list of usernames and passwords. Keep it in a very secure location where no one else can see it or access it. You should change your passwords often, the best ones are at least eight or nine digits long, random, and have both numbers and letters in them.
Order Your Credit Report Yearly. You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year. Do not order copies from each of the three bureaus at the same time, spread it out a few months apart so you can see how things are reported and hopefully catch any erroneous errors. All three – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are available at www.annualcreditreport.com .
Avoid “Phishing”. Watch out for emails that LOOK legitimate but that ask you for information. A good example is eBay. If you receive an email that asks you for your password, your identity, or other information, DON’T give it. Scam artists commonly will paste the logo, and it will look and appear to be genuine. Also, when you visit sites that are commercial, look to be sure their identity and security certificate information is accurate and validated. Another clue is most secure sites online will start with https.. instead of http. S is for “secure”. Never give out personal email, password or other information via email, find another way to contact the company to verify. Most often it’s an attempt to gain access to your accounts, or your ID.
Double Check your Transactions Daily. If you bank online this is doubly important. Keep accurate records, and check at least once a day during the week, weekends too if you can.
Protect Your Snail Mail. If you can’t be there when the mail is delivered, consider purchasing and installing a locked mailbox. Ask for checks to be held at the bank and pick them up, or consider direct deposit options.
Stick to Known Local ATMs. Believe it or not there are ATM machines out there that take your personal information and sell it. This is not as wide spread as it could be, but it does occur. Use ones known to you locally, and avoid using out of the way ATM’s when you travel.