Identity theft is something that has affected millions of people and has someone assuming your identity in entirety. It is a serious problem that can ruin your reputation, finances and even credit score if you are unlucky to be a victim. The truth is that you may not have your identity stolen yet, but you may know someone who has suffered under such crimes. Just like any other problem, it is best to take precautions to keep yourself protected than trying to fix the situation when it has already happened. And fortunately with identity theft, there are simple to do things that can help keep you protected.
1. Carry only what you need in your wallet or purse. The majority of people have a tendency of stashing all valuable items in their wallets and purses. Whereas it may be a convenience, you risk a lot in case you end up losing the wallet. Avoid carrying important items such as social security cards and their security numbers in your purse and instead keep them safe at home. It also helps not to carry all your credit cards and to never carry PIN numbers for any credit or ATM card you have.
2. Shred all documents with sensitive information before disposing them. Financial paperwork and documents should not be left lying around or disposed in perfect form. This is because many identity thieves use such to steal your personal information. If you have no control over disposal like in an office setting, then make sure that you use the paper shredder to keep your details protected. Documents that you should be very careful disposing include bills and invoices, tax forms, credit card solicitations and loan applications.
3. Keep an eye on your credit scores and report. This is one of the best ways of getting warnings that you may have had your identity stolen. New credit cards and loan accounts you did not open as well as addresses and names, multiple credit inquiries from companies you are not associated with are all clues that you may have become a victim. You can get credit reports free from relevant credit bureaus and monitor credit scores just as easily to pinpoint anything fishy and take action before the situation takes a turn for the worst.
4. Choose strong passwords and usernames for your online accounts. It is something most people do not pay attention to, yet it can go a long way in keeping your identity safe. It is actually advisable that you avoid using the same password and username for all online accounts you have. Regularly changing passwords and choosing strong ones every time is also very helpful in making it harder for the thieves to crack and gain access to your accounts.
5. Review bank statements and credit card statements. Identity thieves are usually after your finances and hence keeping a close eye on your statements can help you manage a situation before extensive damages happen. Even though professional thieves can easily open new accounts and have statements mailed elsewhere, it is still a move that can protect you from petty thefts.