ID Theft Can Happen to You: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
As we see in the news every day, the horrific crime of identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. You can diminish your chance of falling prey to identity thieves by following simple steps and guidelines.
The United States Department of Justice is a great resource for information about identity theft. The USDOJ says to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, you can start by being stingy about giving your personal information out to other people, businesses or organizations.
- When you’re at home, adopt a “need to know attitude” and only give information to someone who absolutely needs it for a valid reason. If someone calls you asking for personal information in order to receive a major credit card, prize, etc., ask them to send you a written application (if you do in fact want whatever they are offering). Once you have received the written application, review it carefully before filling it out.
- USDOJ goes even further, offering an interesting tip that most people might not think about: the more information you have printed on your bank checks – like your social security number or even your home phone number – the more often you are handing out personal information to people who do not need it, and you probably aren’t even thinking twice about it.
- When travelling, make sure to have your mail held at your post office or ask someone to pick up your mail and newspaper deliveries while you are gone.
- Regularly check you financial information – make sure you’re receiving your monthly statements, and check these carefully to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.
- Periodically check a copy of your credit report, which should list all bank and financial accounts under your name – make sure all of these accounts are actually ones you opened.
The Washington State Office of the Attorney General has additional tips for how you can reduce your likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim, while also cutting down on unwanted sales pitches, by removing yourself from contact lists and restricting third party solicitations.
- Register for the Do Not Call list at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Also, contact your credit card companies to find out if any of your personal information can be distributed to partners or affiliates of the card company. If this information can be given out, ask your credit card company representative how you can cancel authorization to release your cardholder information; use the phrase: “No third party solicitations.”
We hope you take all of these recommendations into consideration in order to protect your identity from thieves! Stay tuned for more updates related to identity theft and identity theft prevention.