Identity theft is an increasing problem, and the perpetrators are getting better at getting a hold of personal information. Once they get a few details, it doesn’t take them long to cause you big headaches.
Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to ID thieves:
- At ATMs or when using your cell phone, thieves will stand close enough to watch you punch in your PIN. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Keep track of your credit card receipts. Double check them against your monthly statement to ensure there aren’t any erroneous charges on your account.
- Shred everything. This includes your credit card receipts, old bank statements, medical statements, bills and credit card offers. Any document that has personal information on it can give a thief access to your life.
- Monitor your accounts regularly so you'll know if a bill goes missing or unauthorized purchases have been made. Be sure to close any unused accounts and cut up old credit cards.
- Get a credit report at least once a year and look for errors.
- Never leave paid bills in your mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up. Drop them off at a post office box.
- If change residences, contact all your creditors and update them of your address change immediately.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don’t use it for an account number or password, and don’t give it out to merchants. Memorize the number so you don’t have to carry it in your wallet or purse.
- When shopping online, make sure your transactions are done through a secure or encrypted site. This is generally designated by an “https” at the beginning of the transaction address.