10 Mistakes People Make that Could Lead to Identity Theft
Let’s face it: Identity Theft is not something most of us are concerned about every waking moment. The reality is Identity Theft is not going away.
Although there is no one perfect way to completely prevent Identity Theft, there are steps people can take to reduce the chances of this crime happening. Yet, very often I see people around me making mistakes over and over again that could lead to Identity Theft.
Mistake #1: Having an “it will never happen to me” attitude. When I talk to people about Identity Theft, I get various responses. It is very bothersome to me to hear people say: “Oh, I am not worried about it, I don’t bank online”. Well good for you! But it doesn’t mean that your other information will not be compromised. Some people say they don’t want to be paranoid about Identity Theft. But I think it is okay to be paranoid just a little.
Mistake #2: Not checking bank and credit card statements on regular basis. Make it a habit to go through every single charge on your statements. Look for anything unusual and you maybe able to prevent a financial disaster.
Mistake #3: Not ordering and reviewing credit reports periodically. You have no excuse not to get your credit reports at least once a year. You can get your FREE credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies every 12 month through www.annualcreditreport.com. You may be able to get your reports free of charge more than once.
Mistake #4: Not ordering and reviewing your PEBES. PEBES stands for Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement. You should automatically receive it every year. PEBES shows your reported work history, income and the benefit amount you are entitled to. If the income reported on PEBES is higher than what your actual income is, time to contact the IRS. If, for any reason, you have not received your PEBES or you know someone is using your Social Security Number, contact the Social Security Administration and order your statement.
Mistake #5: Not shredding the documents with personal information on them. Surprisingly, the majority of people are still throwing away a lot of documents with personal information on them. Make it impossible for the dumpster divers to get your information-invest in a good cross-cut shredder!
Mistake #6: Failing to properly secure a computer. I sure DO hope that you are not one of those people who say that they don’t worry about anti-virus software and system updates, because all they do on their computer is visit Facebook and send a few emails. Malware could be running in the background without the user’s knowledge. Some malicious software can duplicate and send itself out to each email address detected in an infected email account.
A lot of Mac users ignorantly think that their computers are so much safer. Your computer is as safe as your latest update. So make sure to update your system and your anti-virus software on regular basis.
Mistake #7: Not using strong passwords. What is your password? 123456? I think it is time to change that. Why would you make it easy for someone to guess your password and access your computer and various online accounts? Get some tips on how to create a strong password.
Mistake #8: Carrying a Social Security card. What’s in your wallet? Carrying a SS card with you is a bad idea. Your SS# is a golden key to your Identity. Leave your SS card at home. Lock it up along with other important documents.
Mistake #10: Sharing too much information on social networking sites. Whether it is Facebook or MySpace, never share too much information. There are certain details of your life you should keep to yourself. Never disclose your address, phone number, date of birth, your vacation plans, etc.
When I became a victim of Identity Theft, my life has changed dramatically. Till this day, I am fighting for my innocence. Be smart! It is never too late to change your habits.