Identity theft is a growing problem, and it’s one that you don’t want to experience firsthand. For victims of identity theft, the challenges they have to face to reclaim their identity are trying. The very best thing you can do is prevent it from happening in the first place. While it’s clear that you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of identity theft, there are definite steps you can take to help your chances.
So, what exactly is identity theft? It’s a crime in either the physical world or the digital world, where thieves and scammers acquire your personal information and use it to assume your identity. That often means charging up your credit cards, emptying your bank accounts, and even performing criminal acts in your name. Obviously, the ideal scenario is never to have your identity stolen. With that in mind, here are some important tips to help you protect yourself.
Be Careful Giving Out Your Info
Thanks to the Internet, the world is more open and connected than ever—but you don’t have to let that extend to your personal information. To begin with, you should be on guard against “phishing” scams. These are emails, phone calls, or messages on social media sites where someone pretends to represent a real company, and they ask you for sensitive information like a credit card or Social Security number. The general rule is, if you didn’t initiate contact with someone, you shouldn’t offer this kind of information, because you can’t be sure they are who they say they are.
Don’t Carry Sensitive Information Around
It’s might be hard with all of the technology today, but whenever possible, avoid carrying anything you don’t absolutely need. This starts with the cards and papers in your wallet, but perhaps the most dangerous offenders are laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Many people who are generally careful still leave passwords, account information, contact information, and personal details accessible on their electronic devices. The safer alternative is to memorize this information and lock it away somewhere safe. That way, if you ever lose your phone or computer, there won’t be any fodder for identity theft for whoever finds it.
Get Rid of the Evidence
Con artists and identity thieves can be unscrupulous, but if you make it easy for them, they’ll gladly take advantage. The simplest way for them to find your information is if you leave it lying around. Especially at work, it’s important to shred any papers that have your information, such as bills, invoices, credit card statements, and pay stubs. However, the same goes for home. Tear up or shred those papers before you throw them away, and if you’re having guests over, consider filing and locking up sensitive documents first as a precaution.
These are just a few important guidelines. Stay educated on the subject to make sure you don’t fall victim to identity theft.
Daniel Thrasher is a freelance writer interested in the subject of identity theft. He recommends Carpey Law, a law firm hired by people who need an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia.