Identity theft is a frightening reality that people face every day. Every year, millions of Americans have their identities stolen, and spend countless time and effort to repair their good name and credit. Our debt counselors know how distressing it is to have your credit ruined. While you may feel helpless at the prospect of having your identity stolen, there are a number of ways that you can minimize your risk of identity theft.
How to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other identifying information without your permission. Identity thieves use this personal information to commit fraud and other crimes in your name. Thus, the best way to help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft is to safeguard your personal information.
Identity thieves look for other people’s personal information everywhere they can. There are a number of ways that they may attempt to access your personal information, so always stay on top of your game to protect yourself! To minimize your risk of identity theft, take these preventative steps:
Protect Your Social Security Number
Change your Social Security number on your driver’s license to a State Identification Number. Also remove your Social Security card from your purse or wallet. Do not write or print your social security number on your checks. If you have to provide your number for anything, offer only the last 4 digits and request that your number be taken off any loan applications.
Protect Your Credit Cards
Identity theft can easily lead to credit card debt. Carry your credit cards separately from your wallet and void any incorrect receipts. Report any questionable charges in writing and send by registered mail to the credit card companies. Keep a secured copy of all account numbers and sign any new cards you receive. Never leave your credit cards unattended and protect all accounts with a password. Destroy account numbers on discarded cards and cut through account numbers.
Protect your ATM/Debit Card
Review all monthly statements for accuracy and report any discrepancies you may find. Check account activity regularly and do not carry your pin number on your person. Be alert for “peering eyes” when making a purchase and do not leave ATM receipts behind.
Protect Your Financial Documents
Shred all personal information in a shredder whenever possible and do not carry extra cards or identifying documents.
Finally, taking preventative steps to guard against identity theft is very important and will pay off in the end. If you do find yourself a victim of identity theft, make sure to move forward to correct the situation.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.