With the advent of new technologies, identity thefts are becoming more and more advanced as well. And as more people use the internet, it has also become a lot easier for criminals to prey on unwitting victims.
Try these simple steps to protect yourself from these scrupulous persons.
1. Keep your important documents, cards and data in a secure place
Your identification cards, financial records, passport, social security number, birth certificate and other important documents should be kept in a secure place, preferably in a box with a lock and key, and hidden somewhere. These documents are very tantalizing to identity thieves and can be sold in the black market for a hefty sum. Leave these documents at home, and avoid carrying it with you unnecessarily.
Your wallet is also a big target for these thieves. Keep to a minimum (only important cards and documents) the things that you put inside your wallet and carry with you every day. Leave most of the cards and IDs at home. Clean your wallet of receipts and papers you don’t need.
Secure your passport while travelling. You can leave it with the hotel for safe-keeping.
2. Dispose sensitive documents properly
All documents with sensitive information like your name, address, birthday, etc. should be disposed of properly. Examples of these documents are bank deposit receipts, credit card statements, old identification cards, etc. Either burn these documents or shred it. Identity thieves usually check the garbage for these precious documents.
3. Protect your mail
Identity thieves are always on the look-out for incoming mail just sitting in your mailbox. Get your mail as soon as possible. If you are going away for a long time, ask a trusted friend, neighbor or landlord to pick up and hold the mail for you.
4. Secure your credit and debit cards
Do not entrust your credit card to anyone. Memorize your PIN or account number, and never write it down (it may fall on the wrong hands). Inform your bank or credit card provider whenever you change your address or phone number. If your card was stolen, report it immediately.
5. Shop or bank online on secure web sites or with secure internet connection
Shopping online should only be done using secure web pages. Websites with “https” in the address bar are safe, meaning your data is encrypted. And online shopping or banking should only be done if you have a secure internet connection. Usually this is at the privacy of your home or office where you are sure that an anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware programs are installed. Hackers can easily grab your data if you are using a public computer or a public Wifi connection. Make sure that you log off after online banking.