We hear about this information all the time and most of us consider ourselves to be fairly wise consumers. I certainly thought this. I happen to be talking with my parents about this and told them I used to carry my social security card with me, and now I now I keep it locked up. They both got very quiet and I asked them...are you carrying your social security card with you? Sure enough. Reveiw this checklist for yourself, and then do it with your parents.
- Don't carry your Social Security card with you. Keep it in a safe place at home.
- Don't carry automotive insurance policies or car registration in your car.
- Hang on tight to your purse (dangling it from the back of the chair in a restaurant is a no-no., and carry a purse that zips and keep it zipped shut!)
- Burglar-proof your home, and keep your important documents and financial records locked up.
- Never write down passwords or carry them with you.
- Don't give out your financial or personal information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact. This last week alone I've had 4 emails from credit unions and banks that said they had to freeze my account until I updated my information with them. Which, I would be glad to do IF I HAD AN ACCOUNT WITH HTEM! I just deleted the emails.
- Give out your Social Security number only when necessary.
- Each of the three credit reporting firms will give you one free credit report per year. Look at your report at least once per year, if not every 6 months.
- Invest in a paper shredder. Shred all financial statements, billing statements and even that preapproved credit card junk mail.
- Minimize the number of credit cards you carry with you.
- Cancel credit cards you haven't used in the last 6 months (although if you've had some of these open for a long time, you'll want to consider the impact this might have on your credit score).
- Review all of your financial statements every month for unfamiliar charges.
- Get your name taken off direct mail lists. Write to:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
We won't ever be able to prevent crime 100%, but we can protect ourselves, and make it more difficult for the thugs to steal from us.