Could you become a victim of identity theft? It’s more likely than you might expect. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your identification without authorization to commit a crime. When it comes to identity theft, prevention is the best defense. The Nevada Society of CPAs offers these tips and observations to help you avoid becoming a victim.
Keep Your Eye On Your Wallet
How do they get your account numbers? The easiest way is to steal your wallet, mail or check. They can then use information on your bank statements, Social Security card, ATM card, driver’s license, credit card or other pieces of ID to get important identification numbers and other data, such as your date of birth.
If you suspect anything with personal information has been stolen, be sure to alert the institution that issued the ID immediately. To speed up the process, keep a list of your account numbers and organizations’ customer service telephone numbers in a safe place so you can contact them easily when you need to. Find out which forms of ID leave you most vulnerable and try to carry them with you less often.
Don’t Trash Your Identity
In addition to theft, scammers often go through trash to find discarded account statements that contain the information they need to make fraudulent purchases. To prevent this, use a paper shredder to destroy documents that contain personal information. Or, simply tearing apart the paper on which your account number is printed also can deter thieves.
Get Your Credit Report
If an identity thief has invaded your accounts, their activity will probably show up on your credit reports. Under federal law, you can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit agencies once a year, and it’s a good idea to do that annually. Privacy rights organizations recommend requesting a report from each agency every four months to get a regular update on whether you have recently been the victim of identity theft