How do I Stop Identity Theft?

B. Miller

Identity theft is unfortunately a very common crime, but it is one that can often be prevented with diligence. It is important to stop identity theft before it occurs, because it can frequently be difficult to recover stolen funds or to restore a good credit score, as well as to catch and prosecute the person who stole your identity. The first step to stop identity theft is to be vigilant about your credit and debit cards, as well as your mail.

Making sure to regularly check computers for viruses can help prevent identity theft.
Making sure to regularly check computers for viruses can help prevent identity theft.

To stop identity theft, take yourself off of marketing mailing lists and phone call solicitations, and if you do receive a phone call, never give out personal information such as a driver's license number or social security number over the phone. If you must provide this information on a form to mail in or over the Internet, be sure that the website is secure and that you are dealing with a business you can trust. Read the business's privacy policy, and use common sense; never send sensitive information over email. Don't carry your social security card with you.

Debit card PIN numbers should be changed regularly to prevent identity theft.
Debit card PIN numbers should be changed regularly to prevent identity theft.

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Another way to stop identity theft is to limit the amount of credit cards you have, as well as those you carry. Write down the credit card numbers, expiration dates, and phone numbers of the credit card companies in a secure place, and do not carry it with you; this way, if your credit cards are lost or stolen, you can quickly call the company and cancel the cards. In addition, try to use credit cards rather than debit cards when shopping, because it is more difficult to recover funds stolen from a checking account. Never use a debit card when shopping online.

Use a credit card, not a debit card, when shopping online.
Use a credit card, not a debit card, when shopping online.

When you receive credit cards and bank statements in the mail, or anything else with sensitive information, shred them before throwing them away. Be sure to review them carefully to note any potential fraudulent charges. Never write your credit card number on your checks when paying your credit card, and be vigilant about your mailbox. Keep it locked, or get your mail as soon as possible; thieves will often take mail right out of your mailbox and attempt to open credit cards in your name.

Shredding old documents that contain personal and financial information can help prevent identity theft.
Shredding old documents that contain personal and financial information can help prevent identity theft.

All of these are helpful ways to stop identity theft. It is best to simply be protective of your private information, and to use common sense when you are dealing with businesses. If you believe your identity has been stolen, immediately alert banks and creditors, and place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports; there is a great deal of information to be found online about how to recover your identity and undo the damage.

To help stop identity theft, Social Security cards should be securely stored and not carried with you.
To help stop identity theft, Social Security cards should be securely stored and not carried with you.
Identity theft occurs when a person's identity is assumed by someone else.
Identity theft occurs when a person's identity is assumed by someone else.
Using a debit card online can make a person more likely to be a victim of identity theft.
Using a debit card online can make a person more likely to be a victim of identity theft.

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