You hear about Identity theft on the news all the time, but do you think it can happen to you? It can, but there are things you can do to keep your identity safe.
Shred all your documents. People go through trash cans and the city’s dump all the time, just waiting for you to throw your papers away so they can take them. If you just throw away canceled checks, credit card statements, and your monthly statement from the bank without shredding them, what’s to stop someone who finds them in the trash from using the information they find on the papers to steal your identity, or get credit cards in your name?
Don’t carry your birth certificate, social security cards or check books in your wallet or purse. Seems like something I shouldn’t have to say, but you’d be surprised how many people carry important documents like these in their wallets or purses. If you’re going to the store it’s easier to carry a credit or debit card for purchases than it is a check book. And if your credit or debit card gets stolen the thieves won’t have your checking account number, and routing number to use. You can call the credit card company and report it stolen, but if your check book gets stolen you may be required to pay a fee to put a stop payment on the unused checks.
Also don’t leave your check book out where anyone who comes over can take it or take a single check. You may trust your friends and family but it’s better to be safe. Keep all important documents locked in a drawer or lock box in your bedroom.
Don’t give your children their social security cards. These cards are not toys and kids don’t need to have them. Kids lose things and thieves are just waiting to find an easy mark. Thieves have been known to steal the identities of small children and no one knows about it until years later when the child is an adult and tries to get a credit card of their own.
Make sure to take the receipts from the ATM when you get money. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been at the ATM machine and seen people leave their receipt and when I call to them and tell them about it, they just shrug like it’s no big deal and put it in the trash. You should take these receipts home, shred them and dispose of them. They have your information on them and you don’t want that information falling into the wrong hands.
Memorize your Pin number for the ATM and avoid writing it down anywhere near your check book. Don’t use numbers for your pin that a thief would easily figure out. Don’t use numbers like your birthday, telephone number, social security number or apartment number.
Don’t give out personal information over the phone. Most legitimate places won’t ask for social security or bank numbers and if they do you should ask them what they need them for. If at any time you feel uneasy about giving out your personal information, just hang up. There’s no need to be nice with telemarketers or scammers.
Remember it’s always better to be overly safe now, than sorry later.