Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft with these Easy Steps
Most of us would like to live in a place where identity theft was not relevant. Unfortunately for us, there is no place this secure. There are several steps you can take no matter where you live in order to avoid being victimized from by identity theft.
1. Use a Paper Shredder
1. Use a Secure Locking Mailbox
The first thing you must do to protect yourself from identity theft is to buy a locking mailbox. Most people would never think of throwing away their credit card statements or other sensitive mail before putting it through the good ol’ paper shredder. But stop and think about what you are shredding: Your Mail! The venerable paper shredder is inadequate if you don’t also protect your mail at its source.
Individuals who do not own a locking mailbox are sitting ducks for mail and identity thieves. It is not hard to casually walk by an unsecure mailbox, open it up, and steal everything inside. With a little luck, mail thieves can accumulate sensitive information they can exploit to open fraudulent accounts and ruin your good name.
Owning a locking mailbox provides security to individuals when they are home and on the road. A quality locking mailbox should be made of heavy-gauge steel and be resistant to prying and leveraged entry. Don’t skimp out and buy a cheap locking mailbox that can be easily violated. A locking mailbox that can provide real security and protection against mail theft is an investment in peace of mind.
2. Use a Paper Shredder
You protect your mail coming in; you should protect your mail when you’re done with it! Using a shredder will prevent would-be identity thieves from accumulating your personal information by rifling through your trash or dumpster diving. You should shred any mail or sensitive documents that you wouldn’t want a criminal obtaining. This includes any items that include account numbers or your social security number, bank statements, bills, and even employment history.
3. Use Caution Online
Never provide your social security number online. There are very few services or transactions that require your social security number to be given, and in any case should opt to call and speak with a company representative, as information can be intercepted in cyber space if the proper precautions haven’t been taken. Hackers all over the world just wait for the moment they see a social security number go across their screen to grab it and use it however they may choose.
Provide information such as your name, address, and credit card with discretion online. When making an online purchase, be sure that the website uses industry standard SSL encryption security technology to scramble your personal information.
If you have a wireless network at your home, password protect it. Far too often, families have an open network with several computers on it. Thieves can access your computers through this unprotected wireless network and scour through your family’s personal information.
Victims of identity theft spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to straighten out the mess that was made of their credit history and good name. To protect yourself and your family from the epidemic of mail and identity theft, take the necessary steps to protect your identity.