These days, there’s no shortage of ways identity thieves will try to steal from you. But with so much focus on cyber security and protecting yourself online, it’s easy to miss some of the other steps you should take to make yourself safer from fraud. Here are five things you can do to protect yourself that have nothing to do with passwords or credit card safety.
- Lock up your home. You’d be surprised how often people leave their house unlocked because they’ll just be gone a minute or they trust their neighbors. Thieves will look for patterns and routines, and they’ll study you until they know your habits. Then it only takes a few minutes for them to get what they need and get away.
- Lock your car. Even if you don’t keep valuables in there, it’s important to lock up your car. This is especially true if you keep any type of paperwork inside. All it takes is someone getting one or two pieces of information about you for them to get started.
- Use a crosscut shredder. We all get tons of junk mail, including credit card offers and other such information. You also might get utility bills, statements, and other pieces of legitimate correspondence. When you’re ready to discard any of this information, use a crosscut shredder to be sure it can’t be put back together. Thieves have no problem going through your garbage to find out information they can use.
- Minimize the junk mail you receive. Even better than destroying those pre-approval notices you receive is getting yourself off those lists in the first place. You can visit OptOutPrescreen.com, which is the official website to opt in or out of offers for credit and insurance. You can also go to DMAchoice.org to stop receiving other junk mail.
- Be wary of public scanners and copiers. These days, scanners and copiers can keep a record of the information you put through it. And because these machines are often leased, it’s hard to know who is going to get that machine next. If you must copy or scan items like tax returns, medical records, or credit card information, make sure you know who can access the machine throughout its life.
Checking your credit report regularly will help you keep an eye on things. If you’re vigilant about watching for suspicious activity, you’ll have a better chance of spotting fraudulent activity early. You can access your credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies once per year by requesting them through FreeCreditReport.com. Keeping your credit score as high as possible and free from fraud and theft is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
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