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6 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

protect identity theftWhile the recent movie Identity Thief shows a humorous side to a stolen identity, actual identity theft is no laughing matter. An identity thief can wreck havoc on your credit report, ruin your chances of obtaining loans, use your social security number to secure government benefits and clone bank cards to withdraw money from your accounts. So, how do you make sure you stay protected? Well a little bit of common sense can go a long way. Here are a few simple ways you can protect yourself.

Never give out personal information over the phone.
If someone needs your social security number, ask for a number to call them back on. Verify that the number actually belongs to the claimed source. Also, when giving out credit card numbers over the phone, ask the person not to repeat your number out loud. Instead, offer to repeat the number to them.

Always question anything that feels out of the ordinary.
When someone needs your personal information, make sure to question why. In some cases, it may just be procedure and you may not even need to give it at all. Make sure to find out how the person or company intends to use and store your personal information. All companies should have a privacy policy they can hand out.

Make sure you’re getting your bills.
One way identity thieves cover their tracks is by changing the billing address to your credit cards. That way you don’t see what charges are coming in until it’s too late. Know when your bill comes and check with the company if it’s a few days late. You may also want to set up an online account so you can view the monthly charges.

Shred sensitive information.
If you are disposing of bank statements, old checks or anything that contains your personal information, make sure to take the time to shred it.

Keep data safe.
When you’re at home, store all important documents in a fireproof safe. Not only will this protect them from the elements, but it will discourage a thief from stealing your information as well. For online information, make sure you’re using secure passwords. Use a secure password, not just for sites that require membership, but also for your computer.

Educate your children on personal information safety.
Make sure your children understand why they shouldn’t give out personal information. Go over different scenarios so there’s no question as to how they should handle situations should they arise.

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