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Topics addressed on December 10, 2009:
Steps you can take at home to prevent ID Theft
What is the best way to prevent identity theft at home?
There is no one thing you can do, but most of the steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft at home are pretty simple.
The first thing you should do is buy a shredder. Shred anything you put in the trash that has identifying information on it. Going through trash is still one of the most popular ways identity thieves get your information.
Make sure you don’t leave documents with sensitive information including credit cards, bank statements, passports, birth certificates or your driver’s license lying around in the open, such as on the kitchen counter or a desk in your home office. Consider getting a lockable cabinet to keep your records, and perhaps a small safe for the really important stuff. Sadly, it is not uncommon for fraud to be committed by family members or friends.
Password protect your computer and install virus protection and firewall software to prevent the malware, such as keystroke trackers, from invading your computer system and exposing your personal details.
When you shop online, make sure you make transactions using secure connections. Look for the “https” in the internet address as an indicator that the site is secure.
Beware of “phishing” phone calls or emails where criminals represent themselves as your bank or account holder and ask you to “verify” your data for audit purposes. Legitimate companies won’t ask you to provide such information.
This is by no means a complete list, but it is a starting point. The best thing you can do is to make a habit of thinking about where your personal information appears and then take appropriate action to secure it.
Remember that you can do everything right and still be a victim. That is why many people subscribe to a credit monitoring or identity protection service so that they can be alerted of any unusual activity. For links to additional information about fraud and identity theft and for more about what you can do to protect yourself, visit Experian’s online fraud center.
A determined identity thief may still make you a victim despite your best efforts to prevent it, but you can make it as difficult as possible for them.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team