How To Avoid Being An Identity Theft Victim
With new identity theft victims popping up in the news almost every day, it may be hard to believe that you can actually avoid becoming a victim yourself. Unless you live in a bubble you cannot safeguard yourself against things you have no control over but you can take the steps to lessen your changes of becoming a victim of identity theft by focusing on those things you do control.
Out Of Your Control
Your Own Information
Your personal financial data is everywhere; you have no control over that data being sold or illegally accessed. If you think about all of the financial institutions and entities that have access to your financial data you will realize how impossible it is to have control over it. These institutions routinely use your financial information: auto, home, life and health insurance companies, banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, your employer, your landlord, government agencies and utility companies.
Within Your Control
Contents Of Your Wallet or Purse
The highest percentage of identity theft occurs from lost or stolen wallets and credit cards. The thief may go on a spending spree with your stolen credit cards however they are more likely to open up new accounts, get new credit cards and take out loans in your name. These accounts and loans are never paid off and the paper trail leads right to you.
Do your best to control what you carry in your purse or wallet. Do not carry credit cards you do not really need. Your social security number is very valuable to thieves; leave your social security card and any other id that has your social security number on it at home.
The Info You Give Away
Guard your social security number. Only give it out as a last resort, especially over the internet. If a vendor asks for your social security number for identification ask if they can use some other information to identify you.
You control how accurate your own financial data is. You can order your credit report once a year for free from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Check for suspicious activity on those reports. If there is incorrect information on your credit reports it is your responsibility to inform the credit agencies in writing of the inaccuracies.
There are so many variables involved in identity theft. Avoid becoming a victim by working on those things you do control.