admin Posted on 3:44 am

How to prevent identity theft

Identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit and your life. Because of this, I get a lot of questions about how to prevent identity theft. The first thing to understand is that there is no sure way to absolutely protect yourself from identity theft. No matter what you do, there will always be some risk that you could become a victim. However, there are some ways you can dramatically reduce your risk. The important thing to remember is that identity theft is all about access to your information. The more access thieves have to your information, the easier it will be for them to steal your identity. Here are some ways you can keep your information safe:

1. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet. Many of my clients have had their identities stolen because they keep their social security card in their wallet and their wallet is lost or stolen. You probably have to keep your driver’s license in your wallet, but there is almost no reason to carry your social security card, so keep it locked up at home.

two. Don’t keep your wallet in your car when it’s parked. Again, many of my clients have their cars stolen with their wallets in, and as soon as that happens, the thieves have their address (from their driver’s license) and all their credit cards. You can easily avoid this by taking your wallet with you even if your car is parked in your driveway!

3. Keep your documents locked up in a safe and shred anything you don’t need. Many people think that if something does not have their social security number, it is harmless to always throw it away. That is not true! Identity thieves take small pieces of information from anywhere to try to open accounts and accumulate debt in your name. While destroying all those credit card offers can be a hassle, it does a lot to keep your information safe.

Four. Shred your receipts. The receipts you get for simple purchases can contain a great deal of confidential information, including your name and a portion of your credit card number. Throwing your receipts in a public trash can gives almost anyone access to your information. Save your receipts and destroy them when you get home.

5. Do not reveal your banking information over the phone. I get so many calls from clients who say they received a phone call from someone asking for their credit card or bank account number. If you called the person and trust whoever is on the other end of the phone, you may be able to get away with making a payment over the phone (although I don’t recommend it). However, if they are calling you, it is very likely that it is a scam. If this happens, hang up and make a payment online or by mail.

Thieves are always coming up with new ways to get their hands on your information in order to steal your identity, so this is by no means an exhaustive list of precautions, but hopefully taking these steps can help prevent it from becoming on a victim of identity theft.

-Wayne Sinnett, Esq.

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