How do identity thieves get your information? They rummage through your mailbox and steal your outgoing bill payments. They dig through your trash in search of cancelled checks, credit card and bank statements, and pre-approved credit card offers. They hack into computers to steal personal data. They go to the post office and fill out a change of address form to divert their victims’ mail to another address so they can steal information.
In short, there are a lot of ways a thief can obtain your personal information. But there are also a lot of things you can do to thwart their efforts.
• Guard your Social Security number as if it is classified information. Don’t give it to anyone unless you are sure of how it will be used and secured.
• Don’t write down your passwords and carry the paper with you. If you must record them, do so and store the paper in a secure location.
• Be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM machine. Make sure no one is standing too close to you, and cover the pad when inputting your PIN. Check the machine to be sure there are no skimming devices attached before you insert your card.
• Warn your children about giving out personal information on social media sites.
• Buy a shredder and use it. This means you shred any document that bears your personal or financial information before you dispose of it, including pre-approved credit offers.