Identity theft is a crime In Palm Beach County, it is estimated to affect over 9 million Americans per year. Every individual must take measures to protect themselves from falling victim to this growing crime.
Protect yourself from identity theft with these basic tips:
1. Consider subscribing to an identity theft protection service. Several companies offer services to help you in the case that you become victim to identity theft. For information on some of these services, please see our reviews of identity theft products.
2. Keep personal documents in a safe. Consider keeping a personal safe for your home as well as a safety deposit box elsewhere. You can use your safe at home to protect items such as your social security card, birth certificate and passport.
3. Protect your purse or wallet at all times. The best purses are those that can be zipped or closed shut. Try not to use bags that others can easily see or reach into, and keep bags close to your body with a tight grip at all times. Do not leave wallets or purses in the car, or if you must, do not leave them exposed or in an obvious place.
4. Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Make copies of credit cards, ID cards, and all other personal documents you keep in your wallet. Also, keep records of phone numbers to contact in case you need to close accounts or order replacement items.
5. Examine your bank account statements monthly to ensure that your accounts have no unauthorized charges. If they do, contact your banking institution immediately.
6. Remove yourself from promotional lists such as junk mail and pre-approved credit card lists. This added clutter doesn’t do any good, and you at risk of ID theft if a stranger gets their hands on your pre-approved cards.
7. Cancel credit cards that you aren’t using. There’s no reason to have open credit for the taking. Besides, the less credit you have open, the less you’ll have to monitor.
8. Select passwords that are difficult for others to uncover. An impersonal combination of letters and numbers is the best.
9. Protect your computer with anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Make sure you keep them up to date.
10. Do not reveal personal information to unverified sources whether over the phone or the Internet. Do not feel pressured to answer personal questions if you do not trust the source. Feel free to request verifying information before giving anything up.
11. Monitor your credit. Take advantage of your free credit reports and consider purchasing additional copies throughout the year for continuous monitoring. Consider placing fraud alerts and credit freezes on your account for greater protection.
12. Shred personal documents before throwing them away. Dumpster diving is a common method of stealing personal information for the sake of identity fraud. Purchase a shredder for your home and make sure you destroy paperwork containing personal information before discarding. This includes mail, credit card statements and even receipts.