[titled_box title="Identity Theft Prevention Guide"]
This post is part of the Identity Theft Prevention Guide, a series of articles and resources designed to help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
As we’ve stressed before, Identity Theft is a broad category that includes a lot of different kinds of crime. You have to think about many different ways thieves strike and be on your guard against them in many different areas of your life.
Here are some of the most common ways thieves gain access to your personal identifying info and how to prevent being a victim:
- Dumpster diving.Thieves dig through your trash, looking for bills, credit card and bank statements, or blank credit card applications.
- Prevent this theft by investing in a shredder. Destroy any personal identifying or account info before you toss it in the trash. You could save up this paperwork and bring it in bulk to a community event like we host for National Protect Your Identity Week. Commercial shredders are on hand, free of charge, and you can destroy all of that sensitive paperwork very quickly.
- Stealing your mail.Thieves grab bank statements or bills from your mailbox, or checks from your outgoing mail.
- Prevent this theft by using a federal mailbox when sending payment for your bills or make your bill payments securely online. Sign up for an Automatic Payment Service to pay bills or DMP payments if you have used Springboard to consolidate your debt payments. For incoming mail, use a locked mailbox with a slot if possible, so thieves can’t get access to anything your mail carrier delivers to you. If you are going to be out of town, have your mail delivery suspended until you return. Also, “Opt Out” of pre-screened credit card offers so there will be less of them in your mailbox for thieves to steal. Call 1-888-567-8688 to opt out.
- Stealing your wallet or purse. Thieves gain access to your id cards, credit cards and other info by swiping or finding your purse or wallet.
- Prevent this theft by carrying as little information with you as possible. Never have your social security card in you wallet, for example. Only carry a single credit card, and do so only if you are planning to use it. (It’s a good idea to leave your credit cards at home anyway, to control impulse spending.) Also, be wary about theft in your daily life; be careful about leaving your purse unattended and keep a hand on your wallet when navigating through a crowd.
We’ve only scratched the surface of ways thieves strike and how to thwart them. More to come!
[titled_box title="Identity Theft Prevention Guide Contents"]
Part 8: Make Your Computer Passwords Stronger
For more information, download our free eBook, “ID Theft: Protecting and Restoring Your Good Name,” or check out our online course on Identity Theft Prevention, available here in our FIT Academy. For more information about National Protect Your Identity Week (NPYIW) or to find a local PYIW event near you, visit ProtectYourIDNow.org.