Take These 6 Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Identity theft is a problem that affects millions of people every year. In fact, according to the 2013 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Report, more than 12.6 million Americans were victims of some form of identity theft in 2012. These thieves will do just about anything to get their hands on another’s identity from scrounging and skimming to dumpster diving and phishing for information. The victims can spend several years picking up the pieces and trying to recover their lost funds.
The easiest way to fight against identity theft is by preventing it in the first place. Follow these 6 easy tips to help protect your identity from thieves everywhere!
Shred Your Personal Information – You don’t have to shred every single letter that comes into your home, but you do need to shred all the items that contain any pertinent information an identity thief would want. Run your credit card receipts, old bills, old bank statements, medical statements, pre-approved credit card offers, and anything else that has your personal financial information through the shredder instead of simply tossing them in the trash.
Limit Your Number of Credit Cards – Try not to keep too many different credit card accounts open. In this case, the fewer cards you have, the better off you’ll be. Remember, it’s much easier to keep track of everything if you have fewer accounts to remember. Close out the old accounts you don’t use (if they don’t have any debt on them, that is).
Keep Your Mailbox Empty – It might be tempting to leave your postmarked bills in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up, but try to resist. Keeping these items in your mailbox can give thieves easy access to your financial information. Instead of sticking them in the mailbox, take your paid bills to the post office to ensure safe handling.
Never Give Your Information Out Over the Phone – It might seem like common sense, but it needs to be said regardless – nevergive your information over the phone to someone who calls you on the telephone. The person on the other end could be trying to scam you for your information. Never give out your bank account number, social security number, or your credit card number or information over the phone.
Always Protect Your Social Security Number – Your social security number is a unique set of numbers and should only be given out if it’s absolutely necessary. If a merchant demands your number, don’t be afraid to ask why it’s necessary. If they legitimately need it, they will completely understand your wariness and give you a full and complete explanation. If it doesn’t sound right or feel right to you, then it probably isn’t.
Remain Vigilant – Keep close watch on your bank accounts and credit card accounts. Check them regularly and carefully. If you notice any missing bills that you were expecting or see any unauthorized purchases being made on your account, it could very well be a sign that your identity has been compromised. If you feel that someone has compromised your identity, call the police and your bank right away.
We at Madison Mutual can also give you the utmost protection, especially when it comes to identity theft. We have recently partnered with IDentity Theft 911, the nation’s premier identity management and data risk management services provider, in order to provide you, our policyholder, with superior identity management services. You can rest assured knowing that you will be protected from the newest identity risks including phishing, scams, social media account or email account compromises, tax related identity theft, and much more!