Personal Finance Security: How to Prevent Yourself from Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft
According to the most recent report on identify theft from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 16 million Americans had their identity stolen and used for fraudulent purposes during the one year study period. Losses from identity theft during the study period exceeded $24 billion.
Identity theft is the fraudulent misuse of a person’s financial accounts or the misuse of personal information to open new accounts or obtain certain benefits. How can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft?
Guard Your Confidential Information
Be mindful of what you do with your confidential information. Documents with sensitive information, such as bank or credit card account numbers, your social security number, and other personal information should be shredded, not simply tossed in the waste basket. Likewise, be careful about the information you share verbally to others. Do not give information out over the phone that could be used to compromise your identity.
Limit What You Carry
identity theftCarry only what you absolutely need in your wallet or purse. You should not carry your social security number card, but rather it should be stored for safekeeping at home.
Take credit cards with you only when you plan to use them. In the event your purse or wallet is stolen, thieves will have access to far less information and accounts, limiting your exposure to fraud.
Perhaps one of the best tools to prevent identity theft is to educate yourself and increase your awareness. Companies such as Global Learning Systems offer training to teach you about frauds such as identity theft and how to prevent them. Encourage your employer to offer awareness programs as a benefit to employees.
Be Smart Online
When going online, ensure you have strong passwords for your email accounts, bank accounts, online stores you shop with, and other websites for which you provide personally identifying information. Strong passwords should be at least eight characters, should contain special characters and numbers, and not be easily guessed.
Don’t save credit card numbers on websites. Ensure that the online stores you purchase from are secure websites and perform some research before purchasing from website you are unfamiliar with.
Identity theft is unfortunately becoming more and more prevalent in our modern society. Take action by protecting your confidential and financial information. Educate yourself to increase your awareness. Taking these steps will help you protect against becoming the next victim of identity theft.