Don’t let thieves steal your identity!

It’s that time of year when Identity thieves are on the prowl. They know that consumers will spend millions if not billions of dollars purchasing holiday items for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But don’t let identity theft take the joy out of the season.

Identity theft is considered to be one of the fastest growing crimes these days. Here are few tips to help you protect yourself from identity theft.

Tip #1: Be a smart online shopper. When making purchases online, make sure the website you use is secure. One way to know if the website has taken security measures is by the url address. A website that begins with “https” has an extra security factor. The “s” means that web traffic to and from this website is encrypted using the SSL or Secure Sockets Layer. The way this works is that each message is split into 2 separate parts or keys one of which is public and one private. Each key can only be decrypted using the other key.

Tip #2: Never carry your Social Security Card with you. If your purse or wallet is stolen with your Social Security Card in it, a thief has all the information needed to steal your identity. Also, never have your social security number listed on your driver’s license or give your number out over the phone.

Tip #3: Safeguard your info both online and offline.  According to the PayPal website listed below, use unique and strong passwords and don’t reuse them. Make it difficult for thieves to figure out your passwords. Never throw away important documents without shredding them. Paper shredders can be purchased fairly inexpensively and it is certainly worth the cost to avoid identity theft.

Use a secure payment system such as PayPal for online transactions. PayPal does not send your private information like bank account and credit card number.

Always logout after you complete an online transaction especially at a public computer or when you are traveling and using Wi-Fi.

Tip #4: Closely watch your bank and credit card accounts. I check my accounts several times each day to make sure no unusual and unauthorized transactions have taken place in my accounts. This is how I have caught identity theft in the past. Usually, I notice before the bank notices. If you find possible identity theft, contact your bank of financial institution as quickly as possible. Your bank will probably put a hold on your account or even close the account to keep the thieves from stealing more money from you.

Tip #5: Only carry the necessary cards in your purse or wallet. Never keep all your credit cards and checkbooks in your purse or wallet and keep them with you at all times. Do not leave your purse lying around and unattended. With today’s use of cell phone cameras it would only take a few seconds for someone to take a picture of all the information on the cards and checks.

Be proactive in trying to prevent identity theft. Your efforts will be worth the trouble!




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