The fastest growing financial crime in The United States is identity theft.According to The Federal Trade Commission, 10 million Americans have
been victims of identity theft last year and over 27 million Americans have been victims of it in the last 5 years.
It is possible to prevent identity theft by cancelling all of your credit cards and stop filling out more credit applications, but the fact is that identity theft is beyond our control these days.There is just too much information available about peopleÂ´s finances in different places which makes it easy for identity thieves to take advantage of it.
Here is 10 useful tips you can use in order to prevent identity theft and feeling more secure.
#1. Make it as difficult as possible for the thief and keep your documents under lock and key. Thieves are opportunistic and not dedicated, they will move on to the next victim if it is too difficult getting your information.Do not leave your checkbook and important files leaving on the table when you have guests in the house, it will be very easy for someone to walk off with them.
Middle-class people are best targets for identity thieves, because they do not pay as much attention to their finances as wealthy people do.This means that you do not need to be rich in order to have your identity stolen.
#2. Constantly monitor your credit report.If you find a suspicious entry on your credit report, this is often the first sign that you may have become a victim.
#3. Before you put personal financial information documents in the trash you need to make sure no one else can take advantage of them later.Buy a paper shredder and destroy the documents before throwing them away.
#4. We are sometimes required to give out personal financial information.Ask the business you are dealing with if they have a shredding policy in place.Tax preparers and financial institutions often shred copies of documents.If not, then you need to come back later and pick them up so you can shred the documents yourself.
#5. Never share your social security number with anyone.There are only a few places that will need it like The IRS, social security administration and the financial institution so they can run credit checks to determine your premiums.The social security number works as proof so they will know that you are who you say you are.Usually the last 4 or 5 digits are enough as proof, never share the entire number.
#6. Always protect your mail, this can be done by getting a mailbox that can be locked.Identity thieves often just follow the mail man and grab everything they can from mail boxes that are unlocked and unprotected.Instead of leaving your mail unprotected, use the nearest post office and send all your mail there.
#7. Take good care of your ATM card because it can be used without the personal ID number.Thieves can quickly empty your bank account and it can take many days for the banks to restore the money that was stolen from you.When paying at the restaurant or bar, I recommend paying cash if you cannot monitor the transaction.
#8. Beware of spammy emails and phone solicitors.Never share your financial information or social security number even if they say they are from the bank.Financial institutions never ask these things on the phone or through email.Many people fall for "phishing" which is a technique criminals use in order to get your information.Never reply to the email if you are contacted this way.
#9. Make sure you are being credited for all taxes you pay, this can be done by monitoring your social security statements.If there are earnings that you cannot recognize or there are earnings missing, this can be an indication for fraud.
#10. Be careful with your wallet and only carry the necessary things in it, like cash and your credit card.Never carry your social security number with you just in case your wallet is stolen.In case it gets stolen, immediately cancel your credit cards by calling the credit card company.Keep the phone number to the credit card company in your cellphone for easy access when you need it.By making photocopies of your driverÂ´s license and credit cards you can get them replaced easier.