With the emergence of the smart chip credit cards, it is hard not to think more about what can be done to help protect ourselves. Identity theft affects an average of 12,157,400 victims annually in the United States. In 2014, there was a new identity fraud victim every 2 seconds. We've provided some easy tips and moves to make to help you protect yourself from becoming a part of these statistics.
Here are 8 tips on how to help keep your identity safe:
1. Minimize what you carry in your wallet: Although thieves have evolved their tactics given the emergence of the World Wide Web, they still look to get easy info from a quick snatch of a purse or wallet. You should only keep the information you need day to day in your wallet. Having less personal information and fewer credit cards in your wallet will help you to know what to cancel if you do fall victim of a crime.
2. Memorize Your Social Security Number: You should never be carrying your Social Security Card in your wallet. Memorize this number and then put your card in a safe place. Very few places need to see your actual card and if they do, they will most likely let you know in advance that you need to bring it in. This number is the single most important key to your identity and if someone gets his or her hands on it, it could be catastrophic.
3. Invest in a paper shredder...it may save you thousands, or more: Shredding your personal information is a good way to get rid of anything that a thief might be able to use. This includes documents ranging from personal account statements, financial statements, mail with your information, and yes, even those pre-paid credit card offers.
4. Get creative with your online passwords: Unfortunately, using the password "password" isn't going to cut it anymore. Get creative with your passwords! Use combinations of letters, numb3rs, CaPitalS, and $pecial Characters. Tip: try not to use words that you may have on any social media, such as your pet's name, your address, your birthday, etc.
5. Don't give your personal info out online: Be very cautious when providing your information online. Don't click on spam or email from names that you don't know or don't recognize. Be wary of sites who ask you to verify personal information when you are not purchasing anything.
6. Keep track of your payment cycles: Keep a calendar of when your payments are due and when you would get notices to pay. If you do not receive a notice of payment at all or your notice is late, call the company. A thief may have requested a change of address and you want to correct that immediately.
7. Review your credit report:Review your credit report at least once a year, if not more. Check to see if there is any incorrect information or any fraudulent activity.
8. Get coverage: Companies such as LifeLock and Identity Guard offer identity theft protection. They will track your information for you and report to you immediately if anything is out of the ordinary or suspicious. This can save you time since they track activity for you, money in the long run if they can spot something suspicious right away, and peace of mind that you are protected.
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