Below you’ll find our selection of the top 10 ways you can prevent identity theft. Make sure you read them all and try to remember and apply these tips in your everyday life.
1. Don’t give out your social security number
This is the most basic thing: you never want to give out your social security number to anyone you don’t trust. And you should always assume the person you’re giving it to is not to be trusted.
2. Request a copy of your credit report at least once a year
You can easily get a free credit report, so request it at least once a year to make sure everything’s in order.
3. Buy a small safe or lock box
Keeping your personal information, financial records and similar locked away is always a smart decision. A lockbox with a simple key is very cheap to buy and will provide at least a basic protection. A quality safe is always a better option though so if your budget allows for it get one. Also make sure nobody except you has access to the key or code required to open it!
A simple lock box like the one displayed on the image here can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $30 and it will keep your documents from easy access by anyone. If someone does tamper with it and try to get access at least you’ll know about it.
4. Don’t ignore any missing bills
If you’re missing bills it is always possible someone stole them from your mailbox. Make sure that’s not what happened!
5. Purchase a shredder
Most identity thieves often won’t go through the trouble if you use a shredder to destroy your financial and other documents. It also means you are actively trying to prevent your identity from being stolen which send a clear message to any potential ID thieves: you may be too much trouble. You can get a simple USB shredder like this for your PC for around $13 so it’s not much of an expense.
6. Don’t give out your personal details or account numbers over phone
Your personal details, account and credit card numbers, addresses, and any other information should never be given out over a phone. You never know who’s on the other end of the line.
7. Safeguard your PC
Online identity theft is becoming increasingly popular and easier due to the wealth of personal details people post on social networks such as Facebook as well as other sites. Make sure you protect your PC with the latest and updated anti-spyware and anti-virus software and learn as much as you can about it. Additionally, make sure you protect your PC with a decent hard to guess password so anyone with physical access to it can’t easily get your information. There are good free solutions for protecting your PC so you don’t have to spend any money for it if you don’t want to.
8. Ignore links in emails
Make sure you always triple-check a link in a received email before you click it! The best way to do it is to actually type the URL of your bank or whatever directly in the address bar of your browser, thus making sure you’re actually going to the right website. Even if the website looks as the official one it may only be a phishing site, so always make sure you are at the right one by looking at the URL, or simply don’t ever click links in emails.
9. Don’t ignore letter concerning purchases you didn’t make
Clearly if you’re getting notifications on purchases you know nothing about it is not to be ignored. Even if it’s only pennies, it means someone else is using your credit cards or bank accounts and it can often lead to more serious spending.
10. Notify the authorities if you suspect you’ve been a victim of ID theft
If you think your identity may have been stolen it’s best to contact the proper authorities as soon as possible. The sooner you do it the better chances you have of stopping it before it may become overly costly and hard.