Stop #Identity Thieves Before They Stop You

securityDo you have enough to worry about in life?

With the answer to that question likely being yes, why would you want to add the fear of becoming an identity theft victim to the list?

Unfortunately, too many consumers have done just that.

Intentionally or not; many consumers have been or are moving closer to being put in harm’s way when it comes to identity theft, leaving them with the possibility of ending up in financial peril.

So, if you’re one of these individuals, what are you doing to lessen the chances of actually becoming a victim?

Know How to Keep Thieves at Arm’s Length

For consumers to stay one step ahead of identity theft thieves, it is important that they practice sound financial principles.

This includes:

    1. Learn more about ID theft – Knowing what you are potentially up against is half the battle. With that the case, it is imperative that you educate yourself as much as possible about identity theft. Are you a prime target? What about your financial and personal identity could make you a soft target for criminals? Do you leave personal and financial information exposed on computers, in your trash can, and other places that can be compromised? Where are identity theft thieves most likely to strike? These are but a few of the questions you should be able to answer over time, so learn as much as possible about avoiding becoming yet another victim;
    2. Don’t give criminals a helping hand – You already have enough on your plate, why give criminals a helping hand? There are myriad of mistakes you can make that will assist identity theft thieves in their pursuits. One of them is leaving personal financial information around for the entire world to see. This can happen in various ways, but a notable one is not properly discarding of personal papers. Think about all the times you might have thrown out credit card receipts, letters with your Social Security number on it, bank data etc. Now stop and think about how easy it is for a thief to rummage through your outdoor garbage can, finding a treasure-trove of data on you. By shredding the information once you no longer need it, you all but totally remove any chances of having someone use that data to their advantage. Another scenario you want to avoid is leaving your computer (or one you are using) out in public with personal data on it. Remember, it just takes an identity theft thief in a public setting (library, coffee shop, airport, gym etc.) less than a minute while you’re away from your computer (or you discard something in the trash) to grab the data he or she needs to make your life miserable. Still another practice to avoid is giving out personal data (SSN, bank information etc.) to someone over the phone. Unless you truly know and trust the individual on the phone asking for such details, never give such details out;
    3. Passwords truly do matter – Whether it is for your online banking or your Facebook page, don’t use generic passwords when signing up and opening up accounts. Most criminals are way too smart for passwords like 123, John Smith, ABC, and so on. Along with creating solid passwords, it doesn’t hurt to change them up every so often. Also be very careful on which individuals you give such information out to. While it is fine for a spouse or other family member to know such information, you should not be sharing such details with co-workers and random friends. The same holds true for your office computer username/password combo.

Whether you have been the victim of identity theft or not, there are myriad of risks out there in today’s financial world, risks that can make your life quite frankly a living hell.

Be sure to implement safe financial practices when you are out in public, at home on the computer or discarding items in the trash, and of course in the workplace.

While staying a step ahead of identity theft thieves does take time and effort, you are the winner in the end.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business and financial topics on the web.