How to Win the War: Preventing Identity Theft
It’s no surprise that December is one of the most prevalent months for identity thieves to strike, as consumers and businesses get engulfed in the flurry of holiday shopping. So, not only has December been deemed the ‘shop til you drop’ month, it has also been deemed National Identity Theft Protection and Awareness Month.
Although you’re most likely already taking precautions against prying thieves’ eyes, there may be some additional identity theft prevention steps you can take:
Keep important documents safely stored. Financial records and any documents which contain sensitive information should be safely locked in a fire-proof safe or locking cabinet. Sometimes, identity thieves are those you least suspect (although sad to consider).
Carry only what’s necessary. Which does not include your social security card and every credit card you own. Should these become lost or stolen, prepare to put in quite a bit of work to cancel those cards and notify the Social Security Administration of the loss. If you need to carry your social security card, be sure to remove it from your purse or wallet when you no longer need it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may find your doctor’s office, workplace, pharmacy and other entities you do business with asking for personal information such as your Social Security numbers and birthdate. While necessary in some cases, don’t be afraid to ask how the information will be used and how they will keep it safe.
Be careful online. Paying bills, making purchases, filling out forms and filing your taxes online have all become commonplace. However, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Take these extra steps to boost privacy and prevent identity theft and fraud:
- Don’t install unidentified software
- Update your software when there is an update available
- Visit / download only from trusted sites
- Regularly update your passwords, and make your passwords unique and challenging to crack
Want to learn more ways to protect yourself from fraud? Visit our Fraud Protection section for answers to common questions and more fraud prevention tips.