Have you ever left your checkbook open or thrown away a credit card statement without shredding it first? While these actions might seem harmless, they could lead to ID theft.
Today, you’ll learn additional ways to protect your identity.
Keep reading to find out more.
What is Identity Theft
According to the Federal Trade Commission, ID Theft occurs “when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.”
And here’s an interesting fact: according to Consumer Affairs, credit card fraud was the most prevalent in ID theft cases; in 2018, more than 167,000 people reported a fraudulent credit card account opened with their information.
While scams like phishing, vishing, and online ID theft are popular ways for scammers to steal your identity, you need to be safe at home, too.
Secure Your Accounts
To make sure your money is safe, balance your checkbook often and verify all account and credit card statements as soon as they arrive.
Keep all checks, credit, and debit cards in a safe place, and don’t leave outgoing checks or paid bills in your mailbox.
Also, invest in a personal paper shredder and destroy:
- checking and credit card statements;
- cancelled checks;
- pre-approved credit card offers; or
- anything with your personal information on it
Place garbage out on the morning of pick-up rather than the night before; this gives dumpster divers less opportunity to go through your trash.
Keep Mail Secure
In fiscal year 2018, postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspects for theft of mail and packages, according to the United States Postal Inspection Service.
That’s why we recommend you install a mailbox with a locking mechanism, or pick up your mail immediately after it’s delivered each day.
Also, don’t place outgoing mail in your mailbox for the carrier to pick up. Instead, always place out-going mail in an official, secure mailbox.
It’s also a good practice to store your mail–including bank statements–somewhere out of sight and reach of anyone who visits your home.
Pay Bills Online
To avoid your personal information circulating through the mail, we suggest you pay your bills electronically. This method is more secure than mailing paper checks.
To Sum It Up
- ID Theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.
- Secure your accounts by consistently balancing your checkbook. Keep all checks, credit, and debit cards in a safe place, and don’t leave outgoing checks or paid bills in your mailbox.
- Shred all checking and credit card statements as well as cancelled checks, pre-approved credit card offers, or anything with your personal information on it.
- Install a mailbox with a locking mechanism, or pick up your mail immediately after it’s delivered each day.
- Pay your bills electronically. This method is more secure than mailing paper checks.
Be sure to check out our other blog posts about identity theft.
And if you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission online at identitytheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
For information about identity theft and more, visit the Persons Banking Company Education Center.