Tags: identity | digital | protect | thieves

Credit.com: Ways to Protect Your Identity

By    |   Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 09:09 AM

Whether you opt to go paperless or choose to stay with printed documents for you bills, how you protect your identity can either increase or decrease the likelihood of identity theft.

More than 12 million Americans per year are affected by identity theft, according to Credit.com, and a victim of identity theft could suffer nearly $5,000 in damages.

Therefore, protecting yourself is more important than ever.

Editor’s Note:
Seniors Scoop Up Unclaimed $20,500 Checks? (See If You Qualify)

The best way to protect yourself is to reduce your risk and take action. Highlighting 10 simple and easy suggestions from Credit.com to shield your identity:

• Mail outgoing bills from the post office or a secure U.S. Postal Service dropbox. Thieves comb neighborhoods looking for outgoing mail, specifically envelopes addressed to financial institutions or mail that would include personal checks for household bills.

• Demand that your name be removed from mailing lists for pre-approved credit card offers.

• Construct stronger passwords. Most websites require a minimum password of eight keystrokes with a combination of capital letters and symbols. Hackers can easily catch on to password patterns. Make your passwords a minimum of 12 characters and a mix of capital letters and numbers and change them often.

• Don’t make copies of medical, tax-related or other sensitive documents on digital copiers at libraries or businesses. The digital copiers at your local office store and libraries have a hard drive that store information. Once the lease expires, the machines could end up in the hands of scammers and you could be revealing Social Security numbers, addresses, date of birth and other sorts of valuable information that thieves crave.

Meanwhile, Experian's ProtectMyID recently released a study that revealed that consumers aren’t doing enough to protect themselves against ID theft.

The study found that:

• 93 percent of those in the study feel that identity theft is a growing problem but few bother to take simple precautions.

• 69 percent feel that they are doing enough to protect their identities, but 23 percent admitted to leaving their purses or wallets unattended while in restaurants.

• 89 percent said they take steps to secure their digital information, but only 37 percent use unique passwords when creating online accounts.

• 55 percent check to see if a site is secure when shopping online.

• 29 percent of the surveyed population admitted to carrying their Social Security cards with them at all times, and 46 percent admitted to using their Social Security numbers on job applications and medical forms.

Many people believe placing valuable items in bank safe deposit boxes is the safest thing to do. However, according to CBS News, "the contents of a safe deposit box are rarely insured, while items in your home are typically covered by your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy."

Instead, information on your outstanding debts, passports and wills should be kept in a fireproof safe in your home.

Editor’s Note: Seniors Scoop Up Unclaimed $20,500 Checks? (See If You Qualify)

Related Stories:

ID Theft Expert Sileo: Easiest Way to Protect Yourself Is to ‘Freeze Your Credit’

Experts: Obamacare Site Has 'Vulnerabilities' to Identity Thieves

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Whether you opt to go paperless or choose to stay with printed documents for you bills, how you protect your identity can either increase or decrease the likelihood of identity theft.
identity,digital,protect,thieves
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2013-09-21
Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 09:09 AM
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