The thought of having my identity stolen terrifies me like nothing else. I’d much rather have the stereo stolen from my car, or the furniture stolen from my apartment than have my identity stolen. For that reason, I am extremely careful when it comes to the information I give out and how I manage my paperwork. I also keep abreast of the steps I can take if I suspect identity theft.
No Information Over The Phone
I do not, under any circumstances give out information over the phone to any individual or company that calls me. I will not confirm my birthdate, full social security number, account numbers or anything else over the phone unless I placed the call. By implementing this as one of my rules, I am ensuring that I know the individual or company I am speaking with, and can be confident that I am not giving information to the wrong person.
I always hide my birthdate on every profile I have. I also do not make my address or phone number publically available, and if there was a way to hide or encrypt my email address, I’d do it since email addresses are often used as usernames. I look as usernames as the first of two passwords used to gain access to my accounts.
For my financial accounts, I make sure my username is different than my email address, and that the passwords are at least 10 characters long. I also do not check my financial accounts in public places on public WIFI networks. I don’t want people to learn where I bank or my personal information by looking over my shoulder. I also don’t want other people using the network to be able to intercept that information.
I also encrypt and lock my home WIFI. There are two reasons for this. I don’t want unauthorized people on my network killing my bandwidth, and I don’t want people snooping around the files on my computer via a remote connection.
Statements And Receipts
For statements and receipts that I don’t need, I shred them. Otherwise, they go into a locked file cabinet. I also don’t leave bills and statements lying around my apartment. Occasionally, I have guests and the maintenance people have keys to my apartment, for those reasons I prefer to have zero identifying information within easy view in my apartment.
If I suspect my identity has been compromised, I immediate initiate fraud alerts with all the credit reporting agencies and my bank. In the case of the credit reporting agencies, when I initiate an alert, I know that alert is good for 90 days and that no one, not even myself can open any new accounts in my name, and financial institutions cannot pull my credit report.
In the case of my bank, I cannot open any new accounts, switch my current accounts or do any banking over the phone for six months. If I need to change my accounts, I have to go to the bank in person and show my driver’s license. On the plus side, it also means that anyone trying to impersonate me has to do the same thing.
By taking these steps to protect my identity, I know I am making it extremely hard for anyone to steal my identity.