The first step in safeguarding your identity is to understand how identity thieves operate and where you are most vulnerable. For example, if you shred all your confidential information, a would-be identity thief will have little chance of accessing your discarded, but potentially sensitive, information. If you leave a list of passwords next to your office computer, your online data may be far less secure.
-Do keep all personal information, including passwords and account numbers, in a safe place.
-Do secure your purse or wallet at work and elsewhere.
-Do make sure no one is lingering nearby before you give personal information over the phone or in person, or enter it into an ATM or other device.
-Do use only secure mailboxes for incoming and outgoing mail.
-Do shred personal documents before discarding.
-Do ask companies with which you do business about their security procedures.
-Don’t carry your Social Security card with you. When you go out, carry only those credit cards you need.
-Don’t give out your Social Security number, account numbers, passwords or any other private information in response to e-mail, phone or in-person requests from sources you don’t know.
-Don’t enter personal information on websites you don’t know to be legitimate and secure.
Children and teenagers can be targets of identity thieves, too. In fact, they make particularly attractive victims because their non-existent credit records are completely unblemished. In addition, it may take months or even years for the theft of a young person’s identity to be discovered. So it’s essential for parents to:
-Be on the lookout for any evidence of misuse of a child’s Social Security, bank account, credit card numbers or any other personal financial information,
-Teach children and teens to take basic precautions against revealing personal information, and
-Make sure any computer the child is using is secure.
For more information, see the Better Business Bureau article Is Your Teen’s Identity Protected?