In this day and age, everyone has heard about identity theft. But what steps can people take to prevent it from happening to them?
The first thing you can do is buy a decent shredder. Shred anything that has your personal information on it. And when you buy a shredder, be sure that it is a crosscut paper shredder. A crosscut paper shredder cuts the paper both vertically and horizontally. This makes it even more difficult to read your mail or sensitive documentation.
Another way to protect your identity is to never carry any personal information on you. So don’t keep your social security number in your wallet or purse. Just memorize the number.
If you have to write down your personal information then encrypt the number, so potential thieves can’t use it. In other words, if your checking account number is 5563323 then simply add a one to the beginning and ending of the number. This way you’ll know that the correct checking account number has no number one in it, but the thief will not.
Another common way to protect your identity is simply to check your credit report every year. It’s now free to do this on an annual basis, so you have no reason not to. There are also companies who claim to watch your credit for you.
I used to use one of these companies. However, I tired of paying money to some company to monitor my credit; I felt that I could do as good of a job as they could. Especially now that I can obtain my credit information for free.
A final way to protect your identity is to simply freeze your credit information. This is a relatively new way to combat identity theft. It is currently available to most people in the United States.
However, some states will not allow you to freeze your credit yet. Instead, you have to be a victim of identity theft first, and then you can freeze your credit information in these states. This will probably change with time.
Most states require that you also pay a fee when you have your credit information frozen. The fee is usually between five and ten dollars. Afterward, you will be assigned a pin number in case you want to unfreeze your account in the future.
You would have to unfreeze your credit information for any loans you might want, such as a mortgage or a car loan. This also means that you have to shell out another five to ten dollars for the unfreezing of your account.
After your mortgage or car loan is cleared then you would need to freeze your account again. And guess what? You have to pay another five or ten dollars to refreeze your account again.
It can be a bit tiring and costly to freeze your credit, but it is an excellent way to prevent identity theft. And you shouldn’t have to freeze and unfreeze your account very often, so it isn’t too big of a deal.
Identity theft is a growing problem and will only worsen with time. However, if you take the proper precautions, the chances of your identity being stolen are slim.