5 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

There are a number of valid ways to prevent identity theft fraud from impacting your life. This article contains 5 simple ways to prevent identity theft from happening to you.

Although there are many ways to prevent identity theft, no method is completely fail safe – especially in this day and age where large corporate and government databases are often compromised. However, it still pays to be cautious with your personal information whenever possible.

Here are 5 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft:

1.) Buy a Shredder. Preferably, a really good one. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent identity theft. It is amazing how much information a determined criminal can accumulate by going through what you throw away. Shred anything that contains sensitive personal information, including credit card offers, bank statements and bills.

2.) Go Paperless. An even better option would be to avoid as much paper delivery as possible. Sign up for online bill pay and delivery options whenever possible. Most banks now offer this option now – and some will even pay you for taking advantage of it. (Plus, you’ll save money by not having to buy stamps and envelopes).

3.) Hold Your Mail. Most people will have their mail held or picked up by a neighbor if they are going out of town for a significant period of time. However, not everyone would think to do so when they take off for a long weekend or a mid-week business trip. While this may seem like a hassle, think of how much of a pain it would be to try to clean up your credit report if your mail is stolen while you were away.

4.) Be Suspicious of Phone Calls and Emails Asking for Information. One of the best ways to prevent identity theft is to develop a healthy dose of suspicion whenever someone asks for personal details about you or one of your accounts. NEVER give out personal information to anyone who initiates a phone call or sends an email to you. With the rampant spread of phishing scams in recent years, no reputable company will use either approach to confirm your information. If you get such a call from someone claiming to be from your bank, credit card company or any other company you do business with – tell them you will be happy to call back using the toll-free customer service number you find on your statement or their corporate web site.

If the request comes via email – ignore. NEVER click on any links in an email unless you are 100% positive of the source.

5.) Monitor your Credit Report. While this won’t “prevent” identity theft – it can certainly help minimize the long-term damage. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report once a year from the 3 major credit reporting agencies – so be sure to take advantage of this. You may also want to consider using an ongoing credit monitor service to keep even better tabs with what is going on with your credit.

So, there you have it – 5 simple ways to prevent identity theft from ruining your life. If you wish to help others, consider a Regis University online criminology masters degree and help prevent identity theft as well as a number of other crimes.

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