Preventing ID Theft
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency once a year by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. You can ask for all three at once if you want to compare the information and make sure it’s consistent. In the future, request one every four months, so you can monitor your credit throughout the year.
Keep your Social Security card and number safe. Keep your card in a secure place, like a safety deposit box or a fireproof lockbox at home. Never share your SSN unless you initiated the transaction.
When you create a password or PIN, try to choose something difficult to guess that would only be significant to you, and the longer the better. Don’t use your birth date or your name. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts—try using a password manager instead.
The most you can be held accountable for with credit card fraud is $50. A debit card offers limited protection, if you quickly report the crime. You can also use your debit card as “credit” during a transaction for added protection.
It’s important to destroy records completely and permanently.
Use a cross-cut shredder to dispose of financial records or any paperwork that includes your name and contact information. CDs and DVDs can also be shredded.
Remember that deleting a digital document or file doesn’t permanently remove it from a hard drive or jump drive. Use specialized, well-regarded software to permanently remove files or wipe your hard drive completely clean. You should physically destroy a jump drive or external drive.
If your files are in the cloud, you can’t control the servers your information is on. Contact the company to ask about file deletion.