As communication and record keeping continues to shift into a cloud-based, digital environment, keeping your identity safe becomes is more important than ever. Identity theft protection requires a multi-pronged approach. Use the technology available to you to guard your online identity. Some are pretty basis interactions, while others include the best way to deal with data storage and document destruction. Preparing in advance and remaining vigilant in your ongoing process will go a long way toward helping protect you from identity theft.
Keep Your Documents Secure
Don't carry non-essential documents with you when you leave your home. Critical identity documents such as your passport, your Social Security card and birth certificate belong in a personal safe for protection. Also, don't overload your wallet with extra credit cards; each piece of plastic or paper is a potential goldmine to the identity thief.
Don't Keep Documents You Don't Need
Keep track of how long you need to keep certain records, including canceled checks, bank statements and tax returns. Once you have confirmed with your financial, legal and other experts that you are no longer required to retain the records, use a shredder to destroy them completely rather than simply throwing them in the trash. Shred any document that contains identifying information. Even receipts should be shredded, since some contain your name and part of your credit card number. Shred bank statements as well, in addition to expired credit cards, credit card offers that come in the mail and CDs or other media that contain sensitive documents. A cross-cut paper shredder does an outstanding job of destroying information and preventing its reconstruction that can run the risk of identity theft. Many shredders are able to safely destroy electronic media.. Check the product description for information about what can be shred as well as the level of confidentiality for the documents that you plan to shred.
Take Caution When Sharing Personal Information
Don't give out your vital personal information, like your social security number. There are certain government agencies and business entities who will absolutely need to get that information from you, but you should first ensure that you protect the manner in which you disclose that information. Ask your landlord and employer what measures they're taking to protect the personal information you've entrusted to them, as well as others who may have the information. Protect the Social Security numbers of others in your family as well; often identity theft focuses on children who aren't likely to use their Social Security number for many years, and by the time they do, the damage may already be done.
Protect Your Online Identity
Think through your own situation to close the security gaps. You may need to put a shredder to work at the office or at home, or you may need to install anti-malware protection on your computer. The more steps you add for your own protection against identity theft, the safer you will be. If you have any questions, reach out to someone knowledgeable in the field.
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