What can someone do with your identity? They can use your name, address and social security number to live like a king or queen on your dime. Don't be a victim. Stop identity theft when you protect your personal information. Here's how.
Your home may be your haven, but thieves know exactly where most people store valuable documents. That's why you should lock up the documents you need for tax or warranty purposes and shred the rest, including:
- Credit applications
- Financial statements
- Other documents with your name, address or social security number
Department store clerks sometimes ask for your address, phone number or zip code. Before giving it out, ask why they need it. If possible, complete the transaction without revealing your personal information. The store may protect your data with encryption, but eavesdropping customers in line behind you may not be so careful with your information.
Likewise, keep an eye on your credit card at all times. If you do lose it, call the bank to cancel it right away before unauthorized charges are made.
You'll also want to follow the advice of the Social Security Administration and leave your social security card at home. With it, identity thieves can open credit accounts in your name and charge items without paying for them. You may not discover the theft until you want to buy a car or house, after the damage to your credit is already done. That's why you should safeguard your social security number.
Be aware that impersonators stand ready to steal your personal information. The email you receive that asks for your name, address and phone number is quite possibly someone who will take your information and empty your bank accounts. So, never share your personal information with anyone, including companies. Unless you're absolutely sure the message is coming from a company you trust, always call customer service instead of answering emails that ask for personal information.
Protect your online passwords by opting out of the save password feature on your browser. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you use different passwords for every site. Use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, and make sure the sites you access protect sensitive data like passwords with an encrypted, secured connection.
You wouldn't hand your credit card to a stranger, and you don't want your personal information or identity available for public access either. That means you should make every effort to protect your personal information and safeguard your financial assets.