As technology continues to advance, the opportunities for identity theft become greater and greater. If you are looking for ways to protect your identity and prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud, then there are a few things that you need to keep in mind:
#1. Safeguard your Social Security Number
According idtheftcenter.org, it is important to keep your social security number safe from potential predators. Don’t give this number out to everyone who asks you for it, but rather, make sure that you know who you are giving it to, and what purpose they are using it for. It is typically safe to provide this information to creditors and for tax purposes, but you shouldn’t give it out over the phone unless it is for a legitimate reason.
#2. Shred Any Unneeded Documentation
If you get any mail that you don’t need, you should shred it in a crosscut paper shredder. This will cut the document up into fine pieces that cannot easily be put back together, and it will prevent dumpster divers from being able to collect any personal information like credit card numbers, your name, social security numbers, or account numbers and billing information.
#3. Consistently Review Bank Statements
Review your banking and credit card statements on a regular basis in order to make sure that all of your charges have gone through, and that no unauthorized purchases have been made. If there have been, notify the credit bureaus right away.
#4. Inspect your Annual Credit Report
Each year, you can opt to receive one free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com in order to inspect it for any errors, additional credit cards or loans that may have been taken out in your name, or for any fraudulent activity that may have occurred.
#5. Don’t be a Sucker for Phishers
There are many phishing schemes going on right now, and plenty of people are trying to get their hands on your personal information. If you ever get solicitations for any of your personal information through the phone, internet, or by mail, it is important that you do not give out the requested information unless you are the one who first initiated contact with the requesting company.
#6. When Buying Online, Only Use Your Credit Card
It may seem silly, but the National Crime Prevention Association says that when you are making purchases online, it is a good idea to do so with your credit card, especially if you are participating in online auctions. If you use your credit card, it is usually far easier to dispute any fraudulent charges than it would be with a check or debit card.
#7. Avoid Free Giveaway Sites
Most websites that are offering free giveaways tend to be scams that are designed to capture your personal information. As a general rule, you should always avoid most of these giveaways unless you are 100% certain that you have actually earned the item in question, or that offer is truly legitimate.
#8. Watch What you Download
Don’t ever open any emails that seem suspicious in nature. For instance, don’t open anything that claims you’re the winner of a free gift, offers you an unsolicited download of music or a video, or any other kind of content that may upload spyware to your computer.
#9. Only Buy from Reputable Retailers
Protectmyid.com says that you should only make online purchases from retailers that have a reputation for being trustworthy and have excellent safeguards in place to protect your identity. Typically, the major stores, companies, and internet giants are safe to trust, but you should be leery of third-party companies.
#10. Don’t Leave Your Receipts Behind
You may think that you don’t need your receipt, but according to the Seattle Police Department, you do need them. These receipts can contain your name and sometimes even your credit card number, which present an easy target for thieves. As a general rule, you should never leave your receipts behind unless you have not put your name into the computer system and have only paid with cash.
If you consistently follow these ten steps, your identity should remain safe and secure.
This article was written by financial blogger and author Chase Sagum. Follow him on Google+ for updates and other important financial content.