We have explored the importance of and as a necessary step to proactively . Now let us delve into the importance of protecting your identity. Identity theft is the process by which a person’s personal information like social security number, credit card number, or bank account number are obtained without that person’s consent; this information is then used to exploit that person’s credit to purchase goods and services whereby running up the identity theft victims credit. Therefore identity theft results in wrecking your credit score and negatively impacting your credit. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides consumer resources to help guard against this risk of theft.
In this information age, identity theft has become a cyber epidemic that costs over @7.6 billion to businesses and $5 billion to consumers every year. Nearly 12 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2011 driving home the fact that it could happen to you. By protecting your identity, you are safeguarding your credit. Here are some actions you can take to proactively protect yourself from identity theft:
- Do not carry your Social Security with you; keep it (safety deposit box, etc)
- Buy a shredder and destroy sensitive documents, receipts, and mail
- Select complicated passwords that combine numbers and letters (i.e. 5ps98xw)
- Don't include your Social Security number or driver’s license number on your checks
- Only transmit your private data on secure online forms with “https” in the URL
- Install virus protection software on your computer
- Review your bank statements and credit card bills carefully for fraudulent charges
- Don't give out personal information over the phone
- Check all three of your credit reports every 6-12 months
- Only carry a few credit cards in your wallet at a time
- Pick up new checks at the bank instead of having them mailed to your home
- Deposit outgoing mail in a locked mailbox or at the post office; don't leaqve in your home mailbox
- Change all your passwords every few months
- Keep photocopies of your credit cards, ID cards, etc in a safe deposit box
- Don’t open files or emails sent to you from unknown sources
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card for transactions
- Write “Ask for ID” on the back of your credit cards instead of signing them
- Why do you need my information?
- How will my information be used?
- How do you keep my information safe?
- Have you ever had a security breach?
- How do you dispose of old records?
**Do you have a financial question you'd like Dr. Kas to answer? Leave it in the comments section below and she'll answer it next week.**