Five Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission lists identity theft near the top of the list of the fraud complaints that people make. Let’s take a look at some methods you can use to prevent identity theft. The more steps you take, the safer you are.

1) Check out the contents of your purse or wallet before you go out and go shopping. Simple theft is the simplest way for criminals to take your identity and go out and engage in fraud with it. Before you decide to go out shopping, think about what kind of critical information you are actually carrying around in your wallet with you. Don’t carry birth certificates, passports, or Social Security cards with you. Don’t even take any unnecessary credit cards with you. All a criminal needs to steal your identity is your Social Security number.

2) Make a list of the bank account and credit information you have and keep it secured in one place. Make sure that you write down the credit limits, expiration dates, and account numbers. Write down the email addresses and telephone numbers of the fraud departments of the credit cards too. If you see that one of your cards has been stolen or is missing, then look at the list and instantly let your credit card provider know about the loss that you have taken. This will not only keep fraudulent charges at bay, but it will notify your credit card provider if the card is ever used again.

3) Make sure that you protect your PINs and passwords. When you’re making your passwords and PINs, don’t ever put the final four digits of your Social Security card or any other series of digits that an identity thief could guess. Make passwords that have random strings of numbers and letters. Try to go to your financial situation and get enhanced security protection for your account. Most of them will enable you to have a password or code when you access your account. If you are asked to make a reminder question, don’t use one that other people can easily remember. Memorize all the passwords you have. Don’t write any of them down anywhere in your wallet.

4) Take a look at your credit report right now. One of the best things to see if a criminal has taken your identity is to take a look at your credit report. Look over it and try to find any mistakes. Report them to the credit bureaus. A federal law will give consumers the ability to get one free copy of your credit report every year.

5) Never give out any confidential information on the phone or to an unwelcome caller saying that they are from a financial institution or a creditor as well. Identity thieves will usually employ your Social Security number to make fraudulent accounts or get access to assets or financial information, especially in tandem with the enhanced activity around the holiday season. Don’t get your Social Security number printed on checks and never let merchants write your Social Security numbers on the checks.