Identity Theft Prevention Tips

If you have ever been the victim of identity theft, you know that it can be a nightmare!  Identity theft can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name. You may not even find out that you are the victim until long after it happens when are trying to get a loan or your credit cards are maxed out.

Most people know to protect their personal information and monitor their credit card and bank statements to look for suspicious activity.  However, identity thieves are getting sneakier and more sophisticated.

Aside from personal identity theft, here are several other forms of identity theft that you may not be aware of:

  • Children identity theft – Your children are at risk, just like you.  The biggest problem is that the theft may go undetected until they are adults.
  • Tax identity theft – A thief falsely files tax returns with the IRS or state using your social security number and personal information.
  • Medical identity theft – This form of ID theft happens when someone gets medical services, or files fraudulent billing claims to your health insurance provider using your personal information, such as your Medicare ID or health insurance member number.
  • Senior identity theft – Seniors are vulnerable to identity theft because they are in more frequent contact with medical professionals, or caregivers and staff at long-term care facilities that have access to personal information or financial documents.
  • Social ID theft – Someone can create an account on social media using your name, photos, and other personal information.

The good news is that identity theft is avoidable.  Most people know to guard their personal information, such as social security number and date of birth, closely.  Another common safeguard is to monitor bank and credit card statements closely, as well as checking your credit periodically.  As we mentioned, the thieves are getting more sophisticated.  They may try to hack your computer.  There are reports of people scanning credit cards while they are safely tucked away in a pocket or purse.  Here are a few things that you can do to help prevent identity theft:

  • Protect your credit and debit cards in a RDIF shield sleeve.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
  • Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.  Outdated information should be shredded by a certified NAID shredding service.
  • Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards by a certified NAID shredding service.
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
  • When you buy a new computer, have your old hard drive destroyed by a certified NAID shredding service.

If you stay vigilant and protect your personal information, you can avoid being a victim of identity theft.

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