1. Secure your trash.
Always tear up checks, bills or letters with any personal information about yourself, and cut old credit cards with scissors. But do not just tear or cut anything in half -chop everything into little pieces. And don’t put all the pieces in the same container.
Do this regardless of whether or not you recycle. If you are getting rid of an old electronic device, always empty out all information. There may be a utility program that will clean the hard drive of your old computer.
2. Secure your social security number.
Check out any online, telephone or snail-mail source that asks for this number. Valid sources often only ask for your last four digits. Find out why someone wants this information, how it will be kept safe, and what will happen if you do not provide it. Keep all documentation of this number under lock and key. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet, as it may get stolen.
If you don’t have a locked mailbox, consider getting a PO box for business transactions that require your social security number. Keep all documentation of this number under lock and key. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet, as it may get stolen.
3. Don’t tell your life story online.
Even seemingly innocuous information like the names of your children or pets can be important proof-of-identity questions at business-oriented websites. Do not post the name of your workplace, your phone number or your home address.
4. Be as secretive as possible.
Use locks and encryptions whenever possible. Require a login and password on your e-devices if the option exists. Change your passwords often; write them down and keep them in a locked drawer. Don’t pick obvious passwords such as your birthday, address, or name of a child or pet.
5. Take identity theft seriously.
Don’t be like me and assume it will never happen to you.
It can happen to anybody.
JP Bloch, PhD Criminologist has taken his own personal experience and turned it into a fascinating and riveting psychological thriller - Identity Thief.
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