Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

From online shopping to online banking, convenience is increasing with the help of the internet.  No longer do you need to go to a store to buy jeans to go to a bank to deposit a check.

But often more convenience can mean less information security which can lead to serious problems like identity theft and credit card fraud.

Identity theft is getting someone’s personal information unlawfully (meaning it was not given to you) and using it for personal gain, usually economic, like if someone pretends to be you to use their health insurance.  An example of credit card would be if you were to steal someone’s credit card information and use it to make purchases.

Because the internet is a relatively new invention and because it is so vast, it’s difficult to make it completely secure.  Although security holes are being closed regularly, there are still ways to steal information, both online and in person.

Without taking proper precautions it is extremely easy for identity thieves to steal your information and use it to their benefit.  But you don’t have to be a victim.  Here is what you can do to try to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you:

  1. Don’t think that the only thing you need to keep safe is your credit card number.  Don’t give away any important information to questionable inquirers including your social security number, birth date, address, Medicaid card, etc.  It can be used against you.
  2. Always shred credit card offers that you aren’t going to apply for.  People can apply as you, use them improperly, and ruin your credit score.
  3. Shred anything else you don’t need that has sensitive information on it.
  4. Don’t respond to any contests that you didn’t actually apply to.  They are often scams to get your personal information.  They can do this over text, by phone, or by mail.
  5. Don’t give out your kids’ information either.  Crooks can use those social security numbers for no good.
  6. Use your gut.  If you have the feeling that something seems off, don’t continue with it.
  7. Log out of your online bank account or any online store that save your credit card info and don’t let anyone else have those passwords.
  8. If you’re using someone else’s computer to do anything credit card or personal information related (buying something online, applying for something sensitive, etc.), clear the cookies when you are done so things like passwords don’t automatically save.
  9. Hide your pin number.  Whenever you type in your pin at the ATM or when paying for something, use your other hand to hide it.  It’s very easy for someone to peak over your shoulder and catch your pin.

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