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More Ways To Protect Your Identity Than You’ve Probably Ever Imagined

January 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Identity Theft

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: February 26, 2018)

hands protecting plant growing from pile of moneyWhether you already consider yourself pretty mindful of identity theft protection, or you know you have a long way to go, you’ll likely find more than one thing on this list that you can do better.

Be careful how you use your credit and debit cards.

  • Choose credit over debit, as a credit card breach provides you more protection than that of a debit card. You will not be held responsible for fraudulent charges that can be proven as such. But in the off-chance you are held liable, you are only responsible for up to $50 for fraudulent credit card charges, whereas it is $500 for those made to a debit card.
  • Don’t let your credit or debit cards out of your sight. This means getting used to paying with cash at restaurants.
  • Speaking of cash, use it more often. The less you use your cards, the better.
  • Don’t sign blank credit card receipts.
  • When making purchases with your card over the phone, only do so if you made the call.

Protect yourself online.

Passwords

  • Create strong passwords. They should include at least one capital letter, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters. Avoid passwords that include your name (or the names of loved ones), birthdates, etc. And the more non-sensical the better, meaning you’re best-served avoiding real words that can be found in the dictionary.

Shopping

  • Only make online purchases via credit or debit card on websites that are clearly secure (i.e. displaying the lock icon or “https” in the domain name.

Other (details and instructions for which can be found here)

  • Hide your IP address.
  • Encrypt your email connections.
  • Encrypt the content of your emails.
  • Protect your email address.
  • Encrypt instant messages.
  • Shield your credit card number when making online purchases.
  • Encrypt your connection with every website you visit.
  • Protect your anonymity when downloading from a file hosting site.

Protect your social security number.

  • Avoid providing your social security number every time you’re asked.
  • Provide your social to the IRS and employers, of course, as well as lenders who need it to be able to check your credit score.
  • Avoid providing your social to people and organizations that don’t need it, particularly hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Remove your name from mailing lists.

  • Opt out of credit bureau mailing lists. Call 1-888-567-8688.
  • Opt out of credit card offers. Go to optoutprescreen.com.
  • Opt out of other junk mail. Write Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735. And call 1-800-407-1088. Include your complete name, name variations, and mailing address.
  • Remove your name from phone solicitation lists. Write Telephone Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735. Include your full name and telephone number with area code.
  • Opt out of coupon mailings. Write Advo Incorporated, Delivery Services, 1001 West Walnut Street, Compton, CA 90220-5191. Include your name and mailing address.
  • Opt out of Yellow Pages delivery. Go to YellowPagesOptOut.com.
  • Opt out of online databases. Go to PrivacyRights.org.

Destroy documents.

  • This should include documents containing any information that could be used to steal your identity, including your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, checking and saving account numbers, social security number, birthdate, medical history, pre-approved credit card offers, and the like.
  • Invest in a shredder. Unless you can literally rip a document into a million little pieces, shredding is the only sure way of destroying identifying information.

Monitor your activity.

  • Check your checking and credit card activity daily via your online accounts.
  • Check your credit reports at least once a year to be sure there are new accounts that you didn’t open. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free copies from the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
  • Consider monitoring your credit scores and report informationĀ all year long through free credit monitoring sites.

Anything else you’d add to the list?

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