How to Prevent Identity Theft

identity theft 1Identity theft is a serious problem affecting more people every day. That’s why learning how to prevent it is so important. Knowing how to prevent identity theft makes your identity more secure. The more people who know how to prevent identity theft, the less inclined others may be to commit the crime.

Did you know... For the past three years, the health/medical sector has accounted for the highest percent (42.5% in 2014) of total hackings of any industry, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. While data breaches at major retailers like Home Depot and Target may resonate more in consumers’ minds, files that contain someone’s medical data can make victims much more vulnerable. (See related article in Forbes)

Preventing identity theft starts with managing your personal information carefully and sensibly. We recommend a few simple precautions to keep your personal information safe:

Only carry essential documents with you. Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside the house can help you prevent identity theft.

Keep new checks out of the mail. When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by identity thieves.

Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone. Identity thieves may call, posing as banks or government agencies. To prevent identity theft, do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

Your trash is their treasure. To prevent identity theft, shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.

Make sure others are keeping you safe. Ensure that your employer, landlord and anyone else with access to your personal data keeps your records safe.

Stay on top of your credit. Make sure your credit reports are accurate and that you sign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report – a helpful way to prevent identity theft.

Protect your Social Security Number. To prevent identity theft, make sure your bank does not print your Social Security Number on your personal checks.

Follow your credit card billing cycles closely. Identity thieves can start by changing your billing address. Making sure you receive your credit card bill every month is an easy way to prevent identity theft.

Keep a list of account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers filed away. If your wallet is stolen, being able to quickly alert your creditors is essential to prevent identity theft.

Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers. Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity theft.

Take steps toward fraud prevention: Fraud Alert, Security Freeze, Security Freeze Fees, Child Identity Theft

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