Tips For Personal and Business Identity Protection In 2015

One of the items that should be atop everyone’s personal goals in 2015 is finding a way to protect their personal identity, data, social security information from being stolen and hacked. So what are some of the things that you can do to help with protecting yourselfw or your business from identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the U.S. And victims spend months and thousands of dollars correcting the problem and clearing their name and credit reports of the damage caused by the theft.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t really prevent being a target of identity thieves. But you can do some simple and inexpensive things to reduce your exposure. And, since thieves are opportunistic scum if you can make yourself a little less attractive to them then it’s likely that they’ll move on to other more vulnerable targets. Here are some obvious and not so obvious tactics you can take to avoid identity theft:

• Buy a shredder and use it…A LOT. The easiest way to get your personal information (which is used to apply for credit in your name) is to dumpster dive. If you throw away un-shredded bank statements, check carbons, old credit cards, receipts or anything with your name and address on it then you’re just asking for someone to use that information to apply for credit. Get a good quality cross cut shredder (or a high end unit that shreds paper into a fine powder) and start shredding everything you can find that has your name and address on it. Here’s a hint: little kids love to use shredders so turn it into a weekly family event. Nothing says it has to be a pain. Here’s another hint: some mail order catalogs are now pre-filling out the order forms they insert in the middle of the catalog. Don’t forget to rip that out too and shred it. If I’m smart enough to figure that out then so are the thieves.
• Mail your mail from work or from a post office rather than leaving it in your mailbox with the flag pulled out. That flag basically says “Hey, look at me. I probably have some checks inside me. Come and get it??”
• Some states assign your Social Security number as your driver’s license number. That’s bad news because if your license is ever stolen or lost then whoever finds it has all they need to apply for credit in your name. Ask the DMV in your state to please use something other than your Social Security number as the driver’s license number. Don’t make the thief’s job any easier.
• Monitor your credit reports as often as possible. Since you get at least three freebies (and possibly more) each year you could strategically spread out when you claim them throughout the year and monitor them for unauthorized activity. Or, you could purchase a service that monitors them for you. There are a lot of products that do this and some are good and some are a waste of money. Do some shopping and choose a service that will monitor all three of your credit reports rather than just one. Anything less than all three leaves you exposed. The prices for these services vary but you can find one for less than $100 each year. Trust me, it’s well worth the money.