Identity Theft, Identity Theft Protection, ID Theft
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Things to Keep in Mind to Prevent Identity Theft Effectively

By Amanda Randell
Published: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Identity theft protection is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Protecting yourself against identity fraud can be hassle-free, only if you just remember all important data and acknowledge that there are people who really are into this kind of fraud. Precaution is always better than crying over permanently lost bills and bouncing checks. Shredding or cutting all unnecessary financial documents is one of the simplest ways to stay away from identity theft. Having a copy of yearly financial reports is also an easy step. Avoiding weak passwords on all financial and personal accounts can also help. In addition, mailing the bills personally instead of waiting for the postman to do it for you are a bit of added task, but nevertheless it will ensure that the bill is paid and your account will not be intercepted by someone else.

STEP 1: Cut into strips all unnecessary financial receipts, whatever transaction at may involve

Nowadays, thieves are already technological masterminds when it comes to manipulating your information. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they are beyond dumpster diving. So make sure you cross-shred all documents that may have any of your personal information on them. Primarily you want to make sure you destroy anything with credit card or bank account numbers, and you certainly want to make sure thieves find no trace of your social security number in your trashcan. Shredding receipts for credit or ATM card transactions is also a good identity theft protection step. Plus, you can also go a step further and shred all mail that has your name and address on it so it makes it far more difficult for identity thieves to find out anything about you. If possible, put your trash out on the morning it is scheduled to be picked up instead of the night before as it makes it more difficult for thieves to get into your trash in the first place.

STEP 2: Ask a copy of your annual financial report from your bank

Since identity thieves specialize in stealing your personal information and opening new credit accounts in your name, it is extremely important that you monitor your credit report. Far too often people assume they don’t need any kind of identity theft protection and they don’t realize their credit has been compromised until they go to apply for an auto loan or to refinance their homes. Then they have to deal with the two-fold problem of repairing their destroyed credit and forgoing a loan they should have qualified for but didn’t. Obtaining your free credit report is easier than you may think. Even if you don’t obtain all three reports at once, make sure you review your report from each agency at least once a year as some credit accounts won’t appear on reports from all three agencies.    

STEP 3: Use the strongest Personal Identification Number possible 

Today’s hackers don’t usually work alone, so an identity thief (or someone who can unknowingly feed them information) might be closer to you than you think. In order to protect yourself, make sure that your passwords and pin codes for all financial institutions aren’t obvious to someone who may know you. Birthdays, anniversaries and nicknames, although easy to remember, aren’t very strong passwords. If you must write your passwords and pin codes down, don’t just leave them in your desk. If possible, try not to use the same passwords and pin codes for all accounts and change them every three months. This is an extra measure of identity theft protection.  

STEP 4: Mail your bills directly to the post office

Although it may be convenient to simply walk to the curb, put your outgoing mail in your mailbox and raise the red flag for the postman, you may be unintentionally alerting thieves to have easy access on your bank or credit account number. Instead of letting your precious financial information stay unprotected, mail it at the post office where it will be safely locked inside a mailbox while it waits to be picked up. You may also want to consider getting a lock for your mailbox so you can protect all incoming bills from identity thieves. If getting a lock for your mailbox isn’t an option, it may be worth for you to pay the small fee associated with obtaining a P.O. Box. This would insure that all of your financial information is safe from the clutches of lurking thieves.

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