In today’s world of automatic data storage and retrieval, it is critical that you think about identity theft prevention when providing personal information to someone. Protect yourself both online and offline. By preventing others from getting their hands on your personal information, you protect your good name.
Keeping Information Secure Offline
Lock your personal records and financial documents in a safe place, both at home and at work. Don’t take all of your personal information with you when you go out. For instance, you don’t need to carry your Social Security card.
Before you give anyone any personal information, such as at work or your child’s school, ask them why it is needed and how they will keep it safe.
Buy a shredder and shred all credit card offers, bank statements, doctor’s statements, checks and any document with personal information that you don’t think you’ll need anymore. Before you throw out an old prescription bottle, destroy the label.
Don’t leave outgoing mail in your personal mailbox. Take it to a USPS mailbox or directly to the post office. Try to remove your mail from your own mailbox as soon as possible.
Keeping Information Secure Online
Be alert to phishing, where you receive email from someone claiming to be from a company that you regularly do business with, such as your bank. Don’t give out any personal information over the telephone or on the Internet unless you are the one that initiated the contact. If you receive email from a company that asks for personal information, even if it is your bank, don’t click on it and answer the questions. Instead, use your web browser to go directly to the company site. Even better, look at a document that you know came from the company and call customer service to ask if the company sent the email. If not, expect to receive an email address to forward the phishing email to. Most companies take this type of misuse of their business name very seriously.
If you will be disposing of your computer, use a utility program to wipe clean the hard drive. Before you get rid of your mobile device, check out how to permanently delete information and then carefully follow the instructions after you have transferred your information to your new device. Remove the SIM card plus phone book, calls made and received, organizers, photos and web search history.
Don’t over-share information on social networking sites and keep passwords private. And don’t use personal information, such as your spouse’s name, as the answer to a site’s security question. Before transmitting sensitive information over the Internet, make sure the site is secure by looking for the letter “s” after http.
Secure Your Social Security Number
Never share your Social Security number and birthday with anyone if it can be avoided. With this information, you are leaving yourself open to identity theft. If someone says they need the information, ask why and how it will be used and protected. While your employer needs your Social Security number for tax purposes, and a credit company needs it to check your credit history if you are applying for credit, there are now few other reasons where it is necessary to provide your Social Security number.
Learn more about the identity theft prevention you deserve by contacting Identity Guard.