With the holiday season in full swing it’s easy to let our guard down when it comes to the security of our personal information. Online purchasing increases dramatically and in general we are simply more distracted than normal. Identity theft has become a great concern in today's society, as it can wreak havoc on your credit and your life.
Because оf this we get a lot of questions asking how to prevent identity theft. The first thing to understand is that there is no sure-fire way to protect yourself completely from identity theft, however there are a number of ways that you can drastically reduce the risk. ID theft is all about access to your information. The more access thieves have to your information the easier it's going to be to steal it. Here are a few ways you can keep your personal information secure and out of the wrong hands:
- Stop carrying your social security card in your wallet. So many people have had their identity stolen because they keep their social security card in their wallet and their wallet is then lost or stolen. In general, you usually need to have a driver's license or ID in your wallet, but there is almost no reason to carry your social security card on your person, so keep it locked up at home.
- Stop using your cats name as your online accounts password. Create Strong Passwords for online accounts and update them frequently. This time of year online shopping has become a go to source for gift buying. Remember to create strong passwords for your shopping and bank accounts, including special characters when possible, and avoid common or easy-to-guess passwords. Change passwords relatively frequently to keep them fresh, and we don’t recommend storing your credit card information in the account for long, if at all either.
- Stop throwing personal documents away without shredding them first. Keep your sensitive documents locked in a safe if possible and shred anything that you don't need. Many people think if something doesn't have their social security number on it then its ok to simply toss in the trash or worse, public garbage cans, including store receipts and ATM receipts. Unfortunately, that’s not true anymore. Identity thieves can use little bits of information from anywhere to try and open accounts and even rack up debt all in your name. While shredding every credit card offer and receipt can be annoying, it does a lot in keeping your information safe.
- Stop letting mail accumulate in your mailbox. We get busy this time of year and can forget to collect our mail every day, especially if we have to walk a distance in the cold to retrieve it, but identity thieves are constantly on the lookout for mailboxes that may contain pre-approved credit card offerings and the like. These are an easy score for thieves, as the applications can be completed (with a change of address), mailed in to the credit card company, and boom, instant access to your credit. If you’re planning any extended trips this holiday season it’s best to play it safe and ask the post office to hold your mail until you return.
With some extra vigilance and additional safeguards in place you can reduce your risk for identity theft and keep your personal information out of the wrong hands. Here at Saavedra & Associates we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and if there is anything our investigators can help you with please don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime.