Identity theft occurs when someone steals your important personal information and uses it without your permission (and knowledge).
Identity theft is a serious crime, and can wreak havoc on victim’s credit history, reputation and finances.
Moreover, it often takes a lot of patience, time and money to resolve identity theft.
Fortunately, there are several effective preventative measures to take to avoid identity theft.
Avoid Identity Theft, Protect Your Information
Avoid leaving printed financial or personal information in plain sight around your home
In most cases, identity thieves are relatives or friends of the victim who easily get their information offline.
Therefore, consider keeping billing information, social security information, checkbooks and any other important thing that can be used by a thief to steal your identity out of sight and very secure (preferably in a safe or lockbox).
Protecting yourself from identity theft also requires that you reduce the risks posed by mail theft.
Consider shredding bank and credit card offers and credit statements before you throw them away.
It is also important that you review your bank statements at least two times every month.
Avoid using a similar password for all your personal accounts. Avoid using your birth date, name of your pet, middle name or guessable consecutive numbers for your passwords.
In case it’s difficult for you to recall complex passwords, you should write them down and hide them somewhere safe such as a locked drawer.
Doing this will enable you to spot any fraud much more promptly should it occur.
Spotting and catching identity fraud soon after it happens greatly reduces damage that can be caused by thieves and often results in less money and time used to resolve the issue.
It is also very crucial that you avoid giving out your social security number whenever possible.
Remember that your social security number is the key to your banking accounts and credit reports and is the major target of thieves.
Your doctor, lawyer, health insurance, school, loan officer, accountant or anyone else who already has your social security number along with other information poses a risk.
Avoid putting your social security number on your credit receipts or checks.
In case this number is requested by a business, consider giving them alternative number such as a drivers license ID.
Securing your home computer is also a very effective way of protecting from identity theft.
You can do this by installing firewall and anti-virus software.
Remove your data with a wipe utility program in case you dispose of a personal computer.