In today’s day and age, pretty much everything we do is online. But spending time on the internet is not the only thing putting us at risk for getting our identities stolen.
Yes, carelessness online can be potentially dangerous, but there are plenty of other things that we all do every day that could be just as bad. Where we talk on the phone, how we handle our mail, and who we decide to be friends with are all factors in potential identity theft.
It may seem that no one is safe from getting their identity stolen. However, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk.
Below, you’ll find 10 things that identity thieves hope you keep doing, so they can steal your identity much more easily. Knowing what behaviors to change about yourself may save you from a world of trouble!
Do you do any of these things in your everyday life? Did we miss any behaviors that could lead to identity theft? Let us know in the comments.
And please SHARE with family and friends so that they can try to keep themselves safe from this fate, too.
Thumbnail sources: Flickr 1, 2, 3
1. Throw around your Social Security Number
This one should be obvious, but we each do things that could potentially expose our identities, like putting our SSNs down on a form or into a computer just because they ask for it. Make sure it’s absolutely necessary you share that information before you actually do.
2. Leave your mailbox unlocked
This also includes not submitting a change of address when you move, and mailing your sensitive information from your personal box rather than the post office.
3. Fail to check your bank statements
When you wave away your bank statement history, you could be overlooking the small discrepancies that identity thieves hope you’ll miss. Verify your charges — the danger is in the details!
4. Use public computers for sensitive information
Never use a public computer to take care of filling important forms with confidential information on them, or for conducting any other personal business that is sensitive. Save that for a secure computer and wifi connection. Even if you delete the history before you leave, there could still be ways to retrieve it and steal your identity.
5. Conduct important calls in public spaces
Any time you have to give out information over the phone, make sure you do it at home. Even if you’re just trying to return that coat that doesn’t fit, you may still have to give out your credit card number out loud. Don’t conduct this business in elevators, airport terminals, or any other place where someone could overhear your call.
6. Trust everyone
Making friends online — whether it be through online shopping, dating sites, or gaming sites — is very easy nowadays. But, it’s also easy to pretend to be someone you’re not online. Even if you simply say when and where you were born, someone could try to obtain your birth certificate, get a social security card, then a license,and then a passport. The rest of the story can only be bad news.
7. Fall for a fake sweepstakes
Never give out your financial information in exchange for a free tote bag if you’ve never heard of the company offering you the free sweepstakes prizes. Be wary of these scams, and only enter into contest for websites and organizations you know and trust. Free stuff could easily lead to your identity being stolen.
8. Toss important documents in the trash
Invest in a shredder. That small investment can save your entire life savings by keeping your information from thieves.
9. Sell your old computers
Simply deleting files isn’t enough. You must completely wipe the hard drive, or physically destroy it, before passing it along to someone else.
10. Use the same password for everything
If you use the same or similar passwords for all of your accounts and devices, you’re putting yourself at risk. You should also never write them down. Diversify your passwords for ultimate security.
Do you do any of these things? Did we miss any behaviors that could lead to identity theft? Let us know in the comments and please SHARE to protect your family and friends!