Imagine that you’ve bought a new car. You’re excited about your purchase, and more than happy to pose in front of your new car, shaking the hand of the salesperson. The dealership puts your photo, your name, the make of the car, and the name of the dealer on their Facebook page, congratulating them on their purchase. No harm, right? Wrong. You’ve just given identity thieves a treasure trove of personal information. Here are some basic ways to prevent identity theft fraud – even some ways that you’d never expect.
Ways to Prevent Identity Theft Fraud
- Limit the personal information that you publish publicly. In the scenario above, the couple buying the car has given personal information to strangers, many of whom may be identity thieves. Some companies use credit report agency’s Knowledge-Based Authentication to verify your identity. Some of the questions? Color or year of a recent automobile purchase.
- Limit who you provide information to. Imagine in the scenario above that an identity thief finds your car purchase information on Facebook. He wants your social security number, so he calls your house, and says he’s from the dealer. He mentions the make and model of your new car, and the salesperson and then states that they can’t read your social security number on your application – could you just give it to them again? Most people would probably feel this call was legitimate, and would provide the info. Offer to call back, or better yet, walk the information into the office yourself.
This tip also applies to emails looking for information – they may be phishing scams. Instead, visit the website directly.
- Don’t give out your SSN. I went to a walk-in clinic last week that asked for my social security number – other parents have told me that they are asked at the pediatrician’s office, on soccer applications, and on camp forms. Leave it blank – chances are, they don’t need it!
- Shred pre-approved credit card forms and credit card checks. Even better, opt-out of getting pre-approved cards.
- Check your credit at least once a year. Pour over reports from each of the four major firms, and report any errors or problems immediately.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet. If your wallet ever gets stolen, you don’t want that number getting into the hands of identity thieves.