3 Easy Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

3 Easy Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

By |July 12th, 2013|


Take three simple steps and your risk of identity theft plummets.

Identity theft can ruin your financial life, so you do what you can to minimize the risks.

You check your credit report, dispute the errors and keep tabs on your day-to-day finances.

You pore over your credit card statements each month to ferret out anything that looks amiss.

Still, the risks remain.

How about we make it even easier?

What’s In Your Wallet?

You carry a lot in your wallet.

You’ve got your driver’s license, credit cards, and medical insurance card.

You may carry your Social Security card with you.

If you lose your wallet, think of the treasure trove of information someone receives.

Your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number are all neatly packaged and delivered into the hands of the identity thief.

With that information, a thief can do pretty much as he or she pleases with your credit identity.

If you remove your Social Security card from your wallet, identity theft becomes more difficult.

If you keep your driver license at home or in your car with your vehicle insurance card, your home address disappears from an identity thief’s view.

Cut down the number of credit and debit cards you carry to pare it down even further.

Shred It To Forget It

Look at your garbage bins and consider the wealth of personal information that’s there for the taking. Credit card statements, bank statements, and more are readily available to anyone who grabs a bag of trash.

Buy an inexpensive shredder at your local office supply store and shred it before tossing out those statements.

Never just throw that stuff away.  You never know who is going through your garbage.

Lock It Up

Now take a walk through your home and think about the documents you’ve got in various nooks and cubbyholes, drawers and such. Credit cards, Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports and more are there for the taking.

One break-in and you’re at risk in a big way.

Buy an inexpensive safe, mount it in a safe place, and tuck away your documents and important papers. Best if the safe is fireproof and waterproof just in case the house is damaged by fire or flood.

Lock It Down

Finally, let’s talk about your computer. If you lose your laptop or someone steals your desktop, you’re up the creek.

Passwords, scanned files and emails are ripe for the picking. Couple that with the photos you’ve got on your computer of your smiling face, and all a thief needs to do is search your hard drive.

Consider encrypting your computer’s hard drive and password-protecting the system. It will keep your data – and your identity – safe from prying eyes.

In the end, there’s nothing you can do to guarantee the safety of your identity. But if you take these three simple steps, you’ll reduce your risk significantly.


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About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.