Preventing Identity Theft at HomeBy Home Security Source Jul 2, 2009 | 5:10:00 pmPosted in: Identity Theft Protection, DIY Safety, Personal Safety
Identity theft is on the rise and is affecting people in record numbers. In 2008, almost 10 million people were affected by some sort of identity theft. This number represents an increase of almost 22% from 2007.
Most identity theft occurs as a result of people being uninformed and not paying enough attention to safeguard their identity. The best thing to do to fight identity theft and prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to be aware and cautious.
Here are some helpful tips for preventing identity theft of you or your loved ones:
• Shred sensitive documents. You’d be surprised by how many people throw away personal, sensitive documents without shredding them. Once you put your garbage on the curb, it’s free game. Anyone who wants can go and pick through tossed credit card applications and bank statements, so be sure not to place any personal information in the trash without shredding it first.
• Protect your mail. Many thieves pick through mail to obtain information they can use for identity theft. Consider getting a mailbox with a lock so only you can take your mail out. Also, when mailing out sensitive items such as bill payments or applications, drop them off directly at the post office. Doing so can prevent someone else from intercepting your mail before it gets to its final destination.
• Be cautious over the phone. Identity thieves constantly try to learn, or “phish” for information over the phone. Always verify that the person you are speaking to is who they say they are. Never take someone’s word or rely on Caller ID– these days, Caller ID can easily be spoofed or faked. If a credit card company, bank, or financial institution contacts you over the phone, never speak to them unless you are certain they are who they say they are. Always tell them you will hang up and call them back at their published number. This can be either on your bank statement, on the back of your credit card, or in a telephone directory. This will ensure you aren’t speaking to someone claiming to be a bank representative.
• Watch your computer – don’t let your computer watch you. While computers can help us be more productive, they can also help identity thieves be more productive. To prevent identity theft over the computer, follow these key rules of thumb:
o Make sure you have virus protection installed, and that the software you’re using is up-to-date. Viruses are one of the main ways identity theft occurs.
o Never send your personal information over the computer to someone you don’t know.
o Always be weary on the internet. You can stay current Stay on the latest “scam” tactics by visiting the FBI’s website to avoid getting caught up the next scam.
• Protect your Credit. Keep a close eye on your credit card statements for charges you don’t recognize. Obtain your free credit report once a year to make sure there are no new, open accounts listed in your name.
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