Managing your risk
Identity theft is a problem of growing concern in this country, with more than 12.7 million of U.S. consumers falling victim in 2014, totaling more than $16 billion in losses. However, your personal information can be sold for peanuts on the black market: a Social Security Number is worth $30, your health insurance information, $20, and your date of birth — a mere $11, according to Bankrate.com.
Protect your assets and your identity. By staying on top of your accounts and taking some simple precautions, the risk of identity fraud greatly reduces. You’ve worked hard to grow your credit score and assets, so don’t let anyone else reap the benefits.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Thieves make it their business to steal identities. Entire companies are formed with the mission of committing fraud using your personal information. The most likely places where identity thieves stalk their prey is medical providers, online purchases, restaurants, tax filings, lost purses or wallets, phone scams and social media. By following this simple advice, your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft are greatly reduced.
Protect Your Social Security Number
- Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Memorize your number and leave it home in a safe place.
- Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
Take Care With Your Mail
- Shred all credit card offers you receive in the mail.
- Never put paperwork with personal information in the trash.
- Avoid unsolicited requests for personal information.
- Check mail regularly rather than letting it pile up.
Secure Your Computer (and other devices)
- Keep malware and security software up to date on devices and computers.
- Use only secure pages when supplying personal information.
- Make sure passwords are complex, high in strength and difficult to compromise.
Discovering Identity Theft
There are many clues that you can look for to help detect if someone else is using your account or personal information — read the Warning Signs of Identity Theft by the Federal Trade Commission.