Simple Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

By: Bernard Pragides

Identity theft crimes are becoming more prevalent in today's society. More and more people are becoming victims, discovering that their personal and financial information is being used by someone else. Here are some simple steps on how you can prevent identity theft.

Tip #1: Keep your private information private. Try to avoid giving out any of your personal/financial information as much as possible. Never reveal your social security number to anyone unless it's an absolute emergency or is truly required to carry out some function. Instead, only be willing to use the last four digits of your social security number as means of verifying who you are. Note that there are many companies who are already employing this method as means for identity verification.

Tip#2: Practice proper disposal of valuable information. Make sure to shred any type of personal/financial documents before throwing it away. This quick and easy task will help thwart any type of attempt to steal your identity.

Tip#3: Safeguard online activities. For any type of account or login, it's recommended to use a password that is not easy to crack. Another important tip when online is to not reply or click on links in an email that requests for your account or billing information. It's better to contact the company cited in the email by telephone or by a valid website to verify the email content.

Tip#4: Monitor your monthly bills and credit reports. Always check your monthly bills in order to spot any suspicious charges. Moreover, make sure your bills actually arrive since many identity theft thieves are known to steal your mail in order to gain access to your personal information. It is also recommended to routinely order your credit reports.

Tip#5: Make copies of your important personal and financial documents. If your purse or wallet gets stolen, it's helpful to have copies of everything in it so you can quickly recall all the items that need to be cancelled. It's better though to not carry your social security card in your purse, and have your social security number memorized.

Tip#6: Be informed and updated on identity theft scams. Being informed and updated on identity theft scams can help you avoid becoming a victim. Note that the internet is not the only place where thieves can steal your personal information. Thieves even install equipment in ATM machines that can steal ATM cards and pin numbers. It's better then to trust your instincts, check the card reader or just use ATM machines located in banks.

Tip#7: Subscribe to a credit monitoring service. With a good identity theft service, no one can do anything with your personal information even if they were able to steal all your personal belongings including your social security card. Note that this service usually costs around $100 a year.

Dealing with the damage done by identity theft to your credit and your name is a slow and painstaking process. This makes taking measures to prevent identity theft more essential. With identity theft, the old saying "Prevention is better than cure" is definitely fitting.

Identity Theft
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