Identity theft may occur in many ways. Last week's blog talked about medical identity theft. There are many other types of information that a thief can take such as stealing your credit or debit card numbers (also called skimming), stealing your wallet or purse, which contains identification and credit cards, stealing your mail and items out of your trash (known as dumpster diving), or stealing records from your place of employment.
To protect information about yourself, it is best to have a good shredder at home. The shredder can be used to shred credit card offers, old medical records or bills or any other documents that might contain your personal information.
You can help to protect yourself by carrying credit or debit cards separately from your wallet or purse. You should watch your credit or debit card during each transaction and ask that the card be returned quickly. You should save receipts to compare with billing statements. Check bank statements (paper form or online) to make sure you recognize the withdrawals, ATM and point of sale debit transactions. You should keep records of all credit or debit card numbers, security codes and expiration dates as well as the telephone numbers and addresses of each company in a secure place. It is also a good idea to regularly check your credit reports to see if anything unusual appears and to make sure the information on the reports are accurate.
Protection from identity theft is important to your own financial well-being as well as that of your family. You do not want to have to hire an attorney to help you clear up a problem after your identity has been stolen.