How to Protect Your Identity

Feb. 2 --TaxTalk Blog

identity theft image

We all hear about identity theft, but no one would ever dare steal YOUR identity. Right?!

Ok, we all know that’s hugely wrong. We never know who identity theft will hit next—whether it’s a big company or our next door neighbor. With that in mind, let’s take a minute to consider these five quick tips:

We’re all expecting our tax season banking and tax forms in the mail soon. This a time we need to be especially vigilant in identity protection. Criminals could get to these sensitive documents in a number of ways, including stealing them out of your mailbox, visiting your home as a guest, or taking documents out of your trash. Be conscious of these easy ways for criminals to steal your information.

We all have that one friend or family member who we keep a close eye on. Here’s another reason to be cautious of cousin Luke: Identity theft by acquaintances is one of the top ways identities are compromised. Criminals visit their friends’ or family members’ houses and steal bank statements, tax forms and credit cards without being suspected. Always keep documents with your personal information in a safe location hidden from anyone who doesn’t need to see them.

Is your Social Security card in your wallet right now? If it is, go straight home, take it out and put it in a secure place. If it’s on any other documents in your wallet or purse, shred them. Imagine if your wallet or purse was lost or stolen. Criminals would have a very easy time stealing your identity. Don’t disregard one of the easiest ways to protect your identity.

Whether it’s “MyDog10,” “SonsName&Birthday” or “I<3StarWars,” get rid of that generic password you use for everything. If an identity thief gets his hands on that password, he might have access to your online shopping accounts (which may save your bank information), email account (where you receive information about credit cards, other passwords and possibly answers to security questions) and even your bank information.

You can check your credit report for free three times a year. Why wouldn’t you? It can tip you off to a potential identity threat. And did you know you can check your children’s credit reports? Don’t wait for them to check it as adults. By then, a criminal could have been using their identities for years.

Identity thieves are professional criminals and are skilled at finding ways to steal identities to make money and wreak havoc—but that doesn’t mean we should give up without a fight. Use these five tips and other tips on the department’s Stop ID Theft website to keep your identity safe.

Stay tuned later in the week for two more posts in this identity protection series.

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