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8 Tips to Help You Prevent Identity Theft and Fraud

Posted by Brandon Girod on August 13, 2015

ZOM5QYEIMVIf you follow the news then you probably remember a story that ran back in April about the statewide “skimmer” sweep that included over 6000 gas stations. At the time authorities had found 81 skimmers, but the sweep continues and today that total is closer to 103. Who knows how long they were acquiring credit card information and how many people are at risk.

In this day and age it really pays to be as careful as you can be with your personal information. The technology and methods involved in stealing someone’s identity become more complex as time passes but the best preventative measure remains timeless: having good judgment when it comes to safeguarding your personal information. So, keep reading for some excellent tips on how to prevent identity theft and fraud.

  • Don’t carry sensitive information in your wallet/purse. Theft is still one of the best ways for someone to steal your identity, so don’t keep your social security card, PINs, or any other sensitive data in your wallet or purse.
  • Dispose of sensitive information properly. Make sure you shred any documents that might have any information an identity thief could use to their advantage.
  • Don’t give out your social security information unless you absolutely have to and you know you can trust the company. Feel free to ask the company what their policy is on customer privacy if you feel uncertain about giving away personal information.
  • Use an encrypted password manager to help keep track of passwords. You should never reuse the same password for anything you care about, and password managers will help you use random and unique passwords for your protection, and they don’t fill in form information unless the domain you click on is real. In other words, if you get caught on a phishing site, the password manager will tip you off.
  • Use fake security answers to throw off would-be identity thieves. Some password managers will also encrypt notes for you as well. Getting the answer for your mother’s maiden name or where you are born is easy information for someone to acquire. Using fictitious information that can’t be guessed is safer.
  • Make a habit of checking your online bank accounts frequently. Just about every bank around has a way for you to do banking online and it’s easy to get started. There are also secure and trusted third-party companies that offer better budgeting services and can be linked to your bank account. These are free to use unlike other monitoring services.
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards when making online purchases. The truth of the matter is that using a debit card is money straight out of your pocket, and if someone steals this information then you’re out that money until your claim can be closed, which could take a while. Using a credit card gives you extra time, your money can easily be refunded after filling out paperwork, and federal laws are on your side.
  • Don’t give out personal information to an unsolicited caller even if they claim to be from a company you’re familiar with. A popular scam is for people to call claiming to be Microsoft. They’ll say your system is at risk due to malware on the computer and will begin asking for information. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and even your bank will never ask for your personal information through email or unsolicited phone calls. If you’re suspicious, ask the caller if you can call the company back with a phone number you know to be correct.

In the end it all comes down to having good judgment, and most people already do. The internet can seem dangerous at times, but it also gives you access to a lot of great tools that can help protect you from potential threats and help you manage your banking effortlessly.

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