1. Secure Your Social Security Number.
Don't carry your social security card around with you. Keep it at home in a safe place. Don't write your social security number down to keep in your wallet either and don't write it on checks. Only give it out when absolutely necessary. If someone asks for your social security number, ask them to explain why they need that information. In many cases, companies do not need to have your social security number.
2. Don't Respond to Unsolicited Requests for Personal Information.
Personal information includes your name, birthdate, social security number or bank account number. Don't give this information out over the phone, by mail or online to any person or company you are unsure about. Many fraudulent behaviors begin by contacting someone via email or phone to let them know about an unpaid bill for example. Keep in mind that your bank isn't going to contact you asking for personal information; they're already going to have that on file. If this happens, be sure to contact your financial institution immediately.
3. Keep Close Tabs on Your Personal Information.
Collect your mail promptly. If you are going to be away from home for a period of time, have the post office hold your mail or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect it for you. Pay attention to billing cycles and notify the sender if any statements are late or missing. Shred any papers that include personal informaiton before throwing them away. This includes reciepts, credit offers, account statements and expired cards. By doing so, you can prevent "dumpster divers" from getting your personal information. Be sure to store any items with your personal information at home in a safe place.
4. Watch for Unauthorized Transactions.
Keep all your reciepts and promptly compare them with your bank account statements to make sure everything matches up. Not only are you looking for unauthorized transactions, but you're also looking to make sure the amounts match. You might should consider ordering your free credit report once a year to review it and make sure there are no accounts you didn't authorize open on there. Check it more frequently if you feel someone may have gained access to your account information.
5. Guard Your Passwords.
Watch out for "shoulder surfers" when you enter your PIN numbers and passwords at ATMs, store checkouts and at the computer. Be sure to shield the keypad if necessary. On your home computer, be sure to install firewalls and anti-virus software. When creating passwords, be sure to use something complicated that identity theives can not easily guess. This means not using your name, birthdate, etc. in the passwords. It is also a good idea to change your passwords regularly and don't use the same password for every account.
While you can do everyting in your power to prevent your identity from being stolen, it can still happen. More and more we are seeing large corporations having data breaches. It is important to make sure you're protected from identity theft through your insurance policy. If you're a business owner that handles a lot of personal information from customers, it is important to have proper Lake of the Ozarks insurance to cover that as well. From personal insurance to business insurance, Insure the Lake can handle all of your coverage needs. Contact us today at 573-348-2794 to see how we can help you!
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About the Author: Steve is a double back-flip insurance ninja. He was named Young Insurance Agent of the Year by the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents in 2010 and is a Certified Insurance Counselor. When he is not helping customers, he enjoys community service, Latin dancing with his beautiful wife and going on adventures with his two awesome sons.
Steve Naught, CIC
3736 Osage Beach Parkway
Osage Beach, MO 65065
Next to Golden Coral