Gone are the days when all you needed to do to protect your identity was lock away your social security card and shred your old tax documents. With advancements in technology, it is easier than ever for identity thieves to steal your money and ruin your credit. Although thieves may be getting smarter, you can certainly outsmart them with a little effort. Check out our tips below if you’re wondering how to prevent identity theft.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
Reviewing Basic Prevention
Let’s take a moment to review identity theft prevention 101. If you’ve made it this far in life without having your identity stolen, you probably know the basics on how to prevent identity theft. However, it’s always a good idea to freshen up your knowledge. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information for financial gain. Some cases can be easier to overcome, like credit card fraud, while others can significantly impact your credit score. Take a look at these quick prevention points:
- Always ask for verification before providing your social security or credit card number over the phone. If the number that called you claims to be your credit card company, hang up and call the number you have on file for your credit card company to verify that it is really them asking for the information.
- Avoid clicking on links in emails. Simply type the URL in for yourself. Sometimes links lead to dangerous sites.
- Always shred important documents.
- Take advantage of direct deposit for your social security checks to prevent someone from stealing your mail.
- Keep your social security card locked away. Even if you only let trustworthy people into your living space, you shouldn’t leave the temptation to steal out in the open.
- Monitor your credit card and bank statements. If you notice an unusual transaction, notify your credit card company or bank.
Trust Your Instincts
If you get a suspicious phone call or email, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Before providing any personal information or clicking on any links, do your research. Look up the number that called you or the email address that contacted you online to see if other people have reported the scam. Often, the email address may look similar to the e-mail address of your bank, your credit card company, a reputable company, or even a friend, with an extra letter or two added.
After researching for yourself, consider getting a second opinion. Call someone you trust and ask what they think. When it comes to preventing identity theft, two heads are better than one.
Often, news sites and news stations will report on recent data breaches or common scams. Pay attention to these warnings, and if you believe you’ve received a scam call, consider contacting your local newspapers in case they wish to report on it. You could help someone else avoid identity theft.
In addition, watch out for these common scams:
- A phone call that requests gift cards in exchange for ransom for a loved one or another service
- An email saying you’ve inherited money
- An email from someone in a foreign country asking for money
- A phone call saying you owe money on your credit card or that you are eligible for a better interest rate
Although it is very important to stay aware of possible scams to protect your identity, don’t live in fear. If you follow these basic tips, you shouldn’t need to worry.
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