Posted by: Kelley Dees | December 19, 2011

Identity Theft Prevention

Can you prevent identity theft? I heard a story that compared it to someone trying to break into your house. You can do things to make it harder for the thief, but if they are determined, nothing can 100% guarantee that you won’t become a victim. Below, we’ll discuss some common-sense ways of preventing identity theft.

  • Do not carry your extra credit cards, Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport in your wallet or purse except when necessary. I used to work in retail as a cashier and I can’t tell you the number of times I saw someone’s Social Security card in their wallet…even at times to the point where I could easily make out the numbers if I wanted to!
  • Do NOT click on links in any emails you receive from your financial institutions–even if you’re certain that they are legitimate. Instead, go to your browser and type in the domain name of the institution (i.e. http://www.bankname.com). Some emails you receive about your financial accounts are fake and known as “phishing” emails. Remember, your financial institutions will NEVER ask for account information, especially account numbers and passwords, via email.
  • Consider installing a lockable mailbox at your residence to reduce mail theft. Check with your local postmaster before installing, as different cities have regulations on these.
  • Never leave your purse or wallet unattended ANYWHERE! At work, church, restaurants, fitness clubs, parties, shopping carts, etc. Once again, working at a store, I can’t count the number of times I would walk down an aisle and walk between a customer and their cart, containing their purse. No one should EVER be able to walk between you and your purse.
  • Never leave your purse or wallet in open view in your car, even if it is locked. This is like setting cake in front of your child and not giving them a fork…they’ll find a way to eat it.
  • Limit the number of credit cards you have. Consider closing inactive accounts. If you choose to keep inactive accounts open, be sure to regularly monitor use on these accounts.
  • Memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) so that you don’t have to write them down. Be aware of your surroundings to be sure no one is watching you input your PIN.
  • Keep a list of all your credit accounts and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards. Include account numbers, expiration dates, and telephone numbers of customer service and fraud departments. You would be surprised how hard it is to get in touch with certain companies when your cards are stolen! My husband’s wallet and mine were both stolen out of our vehicles once (they were hidden, but probably shouldn’t have been in the car in the first place). We found all of the information to call each company except for one. On their website, it said the following: “To report a stolen card, please call the number on the back of your card.” Obviously, we didn’t have the card so we didn’t have the number. It took a LOT of effort to find a number to call and cancel the stolen card. Having a list in a secure location would have saved us some trouble!
  • Keep track of when you should receive your billing statements in the mail. If you don’t receive it within a few days of usual, contact the company immediately. Consider enrolling in receiving your statements via email or online. This can greatly cut down on someone’s ability to steal your identity via mail.

While none of these tips can guarantee 100% that your identity will not be stolen, using these tips can make it more difficult for someone to steal your identity. Have more tips we didn’t mention? Share in the comment section!

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from the Fight Identity Theft blog. Please visit them for more information on ways to fight identity theft.

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