Protecting your sensitive personal information from thieves is getting harder than ever, thanks to a combination of the growth and sophistication of organized crime, and the lack of initiative on the part of banks and legislators to do anything meaningful to combat it.
Ways To Beat Identity Theft
What follows is a list of the most basic things you can do to prevent your identity from being stolen. While some of them are pretty obvious, its best to take nothing for granted:
- Invest in a good paper shredder. Some, like the Fellowes Powershred are less than 100 dollars.
- Watch out for so-called "shoulder surfers". Often people will try to get a glimpse of you entering your PIN number into an ATM machine or checkout card reader. Be wary even of the most harmless looking person.
- Watch out for the store clerk double swiping your debit card in two places.
- Use your credit card. Instead of using a bank debit card, which is likely not insured, use your credit card instead - and pay off the balance each month on time. You see unlike bank debit cards, you are only liable for the first $50 dollars.
- Watch what you carry. Never carry certain pieces of ID, such as your Social Security Card it you can help it.
- Practice due diligence on the Internet. On sites such as Facebook, organized criminals have already been able to steal people's identity - as its all right there for them in some cases: family names, family members, home city, name, employer, personal habits, children's names, etc. Never use your real name when posting on online forums.
- Destroy your computer's hard drive. When getting rid of your old computer, physically destroy the hard drive. Sure, you can use a disk eraser software like DBAN, but its best to physically smash the thing to pieces.
- Take photos of all of your credit cards and ID and personal belongings. In case of a theft, this will help authorities.
- Use some online services to send encrypted email. Hushmail and Cyber Rights are two good ones!
- They can do so many things with your identity. Criminals do not just use your stolen identity to make fraudulent purchases. They also will directly sell your SPI for big bucks or engage in Real Estate fraud or Income Tax fraud.
- Don't talk to useless people. An obvious one: do not ever ever give out any information to telemarketers or answer emails.
- Do not keep personal documents in your vehicle. You would be surprised how many people keep their license and or registration in their vehicle.
- Throw nothing with personal information in the garbage. I know, I'm being captain obvious, but you would be surprised at how many of us do this from time to time. Also, again, get a paper shredder.
Avoid ID Theft