Identity theft is an ever-increasing crime. It occurs when personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money and it can destroy credit and ruin your good name.
Safeguard your information:
Shred financial documents and paperwork like those checks from credit cards that come in the mail. Be sure you are using a cross-cut shredder and not one that just cuts in strips. I was told by a fraud detective that criminals hyped up on meth can stay up for days, taping those strips back together.
Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry the card in your wallet and ask to use a different identifier at doctor’s offices.
Don’t give out personal information on the phone. Crooks now have a device that will make it look like your bank is calling you if you have caller-ID on your phone. Ask to come into the bank or to call back a number you know to be the bank’s true number.
Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information. If your email address gets hacked, you probably should put an alert on your credit reports.
Don’t use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Change your passwords often.
Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have others come into your home to do work.
Next: How to detect suspicious activity.