We are constantly bombarded with information about identity theft and ways to keep our personal information personal, but some are incredibly complicated.
With all the scare tactics in the media and intense measures many people go through to keep their identity safe, it is easy to forget simple ways to prevent identity theft.
Here are five everyday tips anyone can use to protect their personal information:
1. Buy A Shredder
This is one of the easiest ways to keep your identity safe. Once you have read and paid old bills, don’t simply throw them in the trash. Shred them.
It is also a good to get a shredder capable of cutting through paper, credit cards and CDs and to properly dispose of old cards and records you might normally just toss in the trash.
Avoiding identity theft can be easy and cheap. For those wondering which documents to shred, here is a good rule of thumb for what should go in the shredder and what should go in the trash: If you’re questioning it, shred it.
2. Keep An Eye On Your Bills
One of the easiest ways to prevent credit-ruining and bank-account-draining identity theft is to keep an eye on your monthly statements.
Often times we simply glance at our final balance and say, “Oh, that’s about right,” when we should really check to make sure we recognize each payment.
It is easy to overlook small purchases, but those looking to steal your identity will often make a small purchase or two to test the validity of the card and information before proceeding to the big stuff.
Notify your bank or credit card company immediately of any unrecognized payments.
3. Online & Digital Protection
In the digital age, identity theft threats are increasingly coming from unwise Internet and computer usage.
Many anti-virus software packages help keep your identity safe by preventing sites from leaving unwanted cookies, or strings of programming designed to report on your Internet usage to a third party.
Likewise, if you have problems remembering multiple passwords, consider a protected password keeper program as opposed to a sticky note on your desk.
4. Random Card Number Generators
With the ease of customer reviews, 24-hour availability and endless possibilities, more people are deciding to shop online.
Although online shopping has many benefits, it is important to safeguard information like your credit card number at all times, even if you’re using a popular and trusted site.
Many credit card companies and even some banks offer a program known as a random card number generator, which will temporarily attach a number to your account for an online purchase or generate a number only good for online shopping.
It may be annoying when a website requires you to have a password of a certain character length with numbers and capitals included, but this is really for your own safety.
Protect the password to your email as closely as you would the password to your online banking because a lot of your information is interconnected.
Avoid using digits from your social security number, credit card number or bank account number in passwords even though they are easily remembered. The more obscure and complex the password, the safer you’ll feel.
All in all, the best way to keep your identity safe is to use common sense and be smart with your private information to make sure it stays that way.
Photo thanks to Freddy the Boy under a creative commons license from Flickr.