Twenty percent of Americans identify themselves as victims of identity theft. (Source: Privacy and American Business.) Don’t let yourself join those alarming statistics!
With the help of your social security number, a thief can steal your identity and wreak havoc with your credit status and life. Best case, the thief will go on a spending spree with your credit cards. Worst case, he’ll get new cards, open new accounts, take out loans, and/or commit a crime in your name. You’ll spend up to 600 hours and $1400 in out-of-pocket expenses to clear your name and repair your credit. Here’s what you can do today to keep yourself — and your good name — safe.
• Never carry your social security card in your wallet. It’s just too dangerous to have that information where it can fall into the wrong hands. Also, don’t carry your birth certificate or passport unless absolutely necessary.
• Be very cautious when giving out your social security number. Most places that ask for it do not require you to provide it. Ask first, “What happens if I don’t want to provide that?”
• Make sure your mail is delivered to a locked box. Or try to collect your mail as soon as it’s delivered to your mailbox. Place outgoing checks or sensitive documents directly in a postal service collection box. And opt out of receiving unsolicited credit card offers.
• Carry only the bare minimum of credit cards in your wallet. Opt for credit cards with your photo on them. And don’t carry your checkbook.
• Don’t use common identifiers for passwords. For example, don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, or your pet’s name. Make it difficult for thieves to impersonate you by adding passwords to your financial accounts. Change passwords frequently.
• Opt out of having your financial information shared by banks and brokerage and insurance companies. Federal law requires these companies to give you the right to opt out of having your information shared.
• Toss computers with care. Make sure to completely wipe out all information on the hard drive before you discard.
© 2016 Articles on Demand™
Donna LaRoche, M.Ed., Professional Organizer Serving Cape Cod, MetroWest and Eastern Massachusetts Contact: 617.640.2366, www.energizeandorganize.com
Phone: 617.640.2366 | Falmouth and Natick, Massachusetts
Organizing Cape Cod, MetroWest and Eastern Massachusetts including Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Concord, Dover, Framingham, Medfield, Millis, Natick, Needham, Newton and Villages, Norfolk, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellesley and Weston © 2021