How to Prevent Identity Theft

There are thousands of Americans, who become victims of identity theft each year. Depending upon how soon you detect the identity theft and how lucky you are – you can lose only couple of hundred dollars to your life savings. Identity theft can happen to anyone and has happened to hundreds and thousands of people nationwide.

Identity thieves frequently attempt to steal credit cards, ATM debit cards and social security cards in any way possible. They may use methods from fraudulent phone calls (attempting to retrieve your personal information) to dumpster-diving and mail flagging.

Here are some simple ways to protect yourself

  • Tear it, shred it or burn it. Destroy all private records and statements. Never throw away credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information without destroying them first.
  • Secure your mail. Always ensure that your mail can not be easily accessible. It is better that you get a lock or a P.O. Box. Never leave outgoing bill payments and checks in an open mail box at home. Ideally, you should mail them through a closed mail box or the post office.
  • Never carry your Social Security card. Avoid disclosing you social security number to anyone especially on the phone, unless you are completely aware and trustworthy of whom you are disclosing the information to.
  • Never forget your ATM, credit card or gas station receipts. They contain your account information and are often left behind. Also be careful who is watching you key in your PIN number when you are using your cards.
  • Avoid letting your credit card out of your sight, this can lead to credit card skimming. You will be surprised to find that the waiter not only charged you for the dinner but also made numerous copies of your credit card number.
  • Avoid giving out personal and financial information. First, identify who is asking for your information and for what reason. Ask what their privacy policy is, and whether you can arrange for the organization to keep your information completely private.
  • Take your name off telemarketing lists and unsubscribe from junk mail. This will reduce the number of unsolicited calls and email you receive.
  • Monitor your credit report. Thoroughly review your credit report at least once a year. Always ensure the information listed is accurate. If you do find any discrepancies contact any one of credit agencies and ask for an evaluation.
  • Always read your credit card statement before making a payment. Ensure the transactions mentioned are correct. Cancel any credit cards or department store cards that you do not use.

  • **Angie M. Tarighi is the CEO/Founder of Women's Self-Defense Institute and EasySafety4U.com providing self defense training, education awareness & personal protection products empowering women to fight back against crime.