National Consumer Protection Week continues today, and this time we look at your identity.Each year millions fall victim to having their identify stolen.
Here are a few things you can do ward off potential thieves:
- Protect your mail. Send and receive mail safely. Mail your bills from a secure location and don't leave sensitive mail sitting in your mailbox for extended periods.
- Shred documents with personal information. Shred or otherwise destroy any statements, documents, or records, which contain personal or financial information after they are no longer needed.
- Keep a close eye on personal documents and credit cards. Although there are always new schemes hatched to steal your identity, the most common form of identity theft continues to be obtaining personal information through lost or stolen documents, checkbooks or credit cards. Do not keep information that you don't need in your purse or wallet. Specifically, do not carry your Social Security Card with you unless you know you will need it that day. Do not keep personal identification numbers attached to credit, debit or ATM cards.
- Be careful about where you store your information at home. Store important information in a safe place in your home. Do not leave financial records lying around your house for prying eyes to see.
- Be safe online. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Be sure to set up your operating system and web browser software properly, and update them regularly. Avoid using obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.