With nearly 10 million victims of identity theft in the US in 2008, there is no logical reason you will not be next. However, by following a few common sense steps, there are many ways to prevent identity theft.
One of the important ways to prevent identity theft is to invest in a paper shredder. Most models go for around $65.00. Use the paper shredder to tear up any bit of personal information you plan on throwing out, including credit and debit card receipts. This especially includes all those pre-approved credit cards you receive in the mail. Be aware that the trash is a primary spot for identity theft criminals to obtain personal information. Maggie Gramelli of Las Vegas, Nevada found this out the hard way. A thief got a hold of her credit card statement she had carelessly thrown out intact and proceeded to ring up over $1,000 in fraudulent charges. It took her three months to correct the problem with her credit card company and Equifax.
On The Town
When using a debit or credit card at an ATM or retail store, watch who is standing around you. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder to get your pin number. Also, make sure you are not carrying extra credit cards you have not been using in your wallet. Another tip is to always leave your social security card at home in a personal safe. If you have followed this advice and your wallet is stolen, the thief will not have access to all your personal information.
Preventing Mail Theft
Stopping mail theft is another one of the ways to prevent identity theft. When you order checks, ask that they be delivered to your bank and not your home. Jeff Dailey, a restaurant manager in Florida, assumed his bank was just late in delivering his checks. It was not until he received an overdraft for a check he did not write that he realized someone had taken his checks out of his mailbox.
When mailing a check, it is best to take the check directly to the post office. Do not leave it in your mailbox to be picked up by the postal worker. It is quite easy for a thief to steal the check and place his or her name as the check recipient.
Another of the great ways to prevent identity theft is to pay attention when you are due to receive a new billing statement, credit card, or debit card in the mail. If you do not receive it within a reasonable amount of time, call the creditor to find out when it was mailed. If too much time has gone by, then have the card canceled.
Never give your personal information out over the phone if you have not initiated the phone call. In addition, keep in mind that there is technology available to monitor cell phone calls. Use a landline when you will be providing personal information over the phone as a means of identity theft prevention. Also, keep your social security number and phone number off of your personal checks. And, whenever personal information is required, ask if it is absolutely necessary to provide that information.
By following these ways to prevent identity theft, you greatly reduce the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. Remember to use common sense when revealing personal information.