7 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

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Identity theft occurs more often than anybody would like to admit and effective privacy techniques could prevent much of the damage. Everyone has a mentality of “it won’t happen to me”. Unfortunately, it can and it WILL to those who don’t follow precautions.

And when it comes to identity theft, you can never be TOO cautious. Always go that extra mile to protect your personal information. It can even happen at a corporate level if a consumer database is hacked. For this reason, you should only provide your credit card information or social security number to agencies with advanced privacy techniques.

Here are seven privacy techniques and tips on how you can reduce your risk of having your identity stolen:

1. Be extremely cautious when asked to provide your social security or personal identification number. Always ask an organization what type of security system they have in place to protect such information from getting out. You never know who will have access to the data when you are not around.

2. Be wary of emails from “banks” or “companies” asking you to verify your personal information. Hackers will try to make it seem like an email really is from your bank or a company with which you are affiliated. They will try to tell you that there is something wrong with your account and that you need to click on the link in the email to verify some information. NEVER DO THIS!

If you are unsure whether or not the email is legitimate, call the company, or manually enter the company’s website URL in your browser. DO NOT login by clicking on the link in the email.

3. Don’t just carelessly toss important papers into the garbage. Some thieves are so desperate that they will actually go through dumpsters in search of personal data. These items include ATM receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, utility bills, and so forth. To prevent them from being stolen, put them through a paper shredder. Or better yet, use a secure ghost address.

4. When paying with a credit or debit card at a restaurant or store, make sure you can actually see the cashier swipe it in the machine. Although they risk getting in a lot of trouble, some employees try to swipe cards into a fraudulent machine that captures the information. While you’re at it, ask for a receipt. Better avoid merchants like Stratfor who could have protected customer information by accepting BitCoin but did not.

5. Sometimes thieves will try to demand personal information from you via the phone. Phishing scams aren’t just limited to the internet. When you receive ANY type of phone call during which the other person wants you to provide them with private information, do not agree to it. They might even try to sound as if they are professionals of some sort.

The only time you should consider giving private details over the phone is if you made the call yourself, and you know you got the right number.

6. As sad as it sounds, some scammers will try to say they are with charity organizations. They will try to make you feel guilt for not donating. If you’re unsure about whether or not they are a real charity, tell them to contact you another way. Tell them that if they are serious, then they may send you a pamphlet through the mail, and that you will send your donation in the form of a money order.

7. Most identity thefts occur whenever somebody loses their wallet or purse. If you lose any personal information such as your social security card, birth certificate, ID, credit card, debit card, check book, cell phone, etc.., IMMEDIATELY notify the relevant institutions and banks. If any of the information is stolen, notify the police as well.

Hopefully, you now have an idea of what privacy techniques you can implement in order to prevent identity theft. Keep these tips in mind and remember: ALWAYS go that extra mile to protect your personal information by implementing stealth tactics from How To Vanish The Book or The Mini-Guide To Personal Privacy.

Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.

Bill Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties.