Remember those popular television commercials about identity theft? You know, where the 50-year-old man's voice is substituted with that of the 17-year-old computer geek who has just stolen his identity through his budding computer hacking skills? If you're not taking the proper precautions to protect your identity, that could be you... in a manner of speaking.
We all think that identity theft will never happen to us. And often, for that specific reason, many of us fail to pay attention to our phones and computers, wallets and purses, mail, and trash – the four most popular origins of identity theft – in a way that is warranted.
Utilize the four S's and start taking the necessary measures to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Secure your financial information. Identity thieves often mask themselves as reliable financial institutions and ask you for critical information that a normal bank wouldn't ask you for. Never give out important information – like your credit card or Social Security Number – over the phone or computer. Down the line, you'll be glad you didn't.
- Switch to online banking. In today's world, physical mail presents a serious threat when it comes to keeping your identity safe and is one of the most common ways thieves steal financial information from unsuspecting victims.
- Stop carrying important documentation and financial information on your person. Documents like your passport and Social Security Card make you susceptible to theft at all times. Limit what you carry to the necessities – a driver's license, one debit card, and one credit card at most – to ensure your identity stays safe in a worst case scenario.
- Shred important financial information that you place in your trash. 'Dumpster Diving' is a common practice among identity thieves to get the information they need. Think twice before putting bills, bank statements, and other financial documents in your trash without destroying them beforehand.
Don't wind up without your own voice like the victims of identity theft in the television commercials. Remember the four S's and start taking precautions to protect your identity and financial well-being.