These days our life saving is a couple plastic cards away. How do you protect yourself from having your entire account wiped out or your identity completely stolen? Read on to learn the top 10 ways to protect yourself.
1. Burn or shred, with a cross shredder, any mail or financial papers with your personal information on it. Never recycle them!
2. Call 1-888-5OPTOUT and ask to stop credit card companies from sending pre-approved credit card applications to your house. They are ticking identity theft time bombs.
3. Ask your credit card firm to cease delivery of “convenience checks.” They, too, are ticking time bombs.
4. You’re entitled to one free credit report each year. Get it as soon as possible and review it carefully.
5. Order a credit report a month or more before you make a big purchase or apply for credit, to be sure there are no surprises in your history.
6. Hassle companies that ask for personal information, such as your phone number at a checkout line. The harder we make it on companies, the less they will be inclined to continue the practice.
7. It’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s fake online. Just delete any e-mail that asks for personal information.
8. Just hang up on telemarketers, particularly ones who seem to be fishing for personal information, like your birthday.
9. Limit the number of credit cards you hold, and religiously inspect your financial statements each month. Consumer rights quickly fade over time; the sooner you discover an identity theft incident, the better.
10. Most of the time, you can’t prevent an ID theft incident from occurring, because two-thirds of the time, some company that leaked the data is to blame. So be prepared, and be organized. Save paper bank records for a year, at least. You’ll need them to prove your account balance in the event of a ID theft incident.
Have you or someone you know ever been a victim of identity theft? Share your story below, you might help someone else!