Today, social media is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives. To help us keep in touch with our friends and family members, many of us are turning to social media sites as one of the primary tools to communicate with them. While social media is helping us to stay in touch with our social circle, it has also opened up an easy avenue for fraudsters to steal our identities. Most of us don’t realize that armed with easily obtainable information such as our name, birthday and address, fraudsters can easily impersonate us and gain access to our accounts and credit line. To help you protect yourself from possible identity theft, we have compiled 10 tips which you can follow to protect your credit as well as your personal information from being compromised.
1. Avoiding Shoulder Surfers
When keying in your PIN number on a card reader or at an ATM machine or even on a computer, be aware of your surroundings and make sure no one is trying to peer over your shoulder to try to see what keys you are pressing.
2. Photo ID Verification
Instead of just trying to sign the back of your credit card, you can also write “Require Photo ID” on the signature block. This is because most store clerks don’t even bother checking the signature on the card receipt against the signature block. By requesting a photo ID, you are adding another layer of protection by requiring the merchants to ensure that the name on the card matches that of the photo ID.
3. Destroying All Digital Data On Disposed Electronic Hardware
Regardless of whether you are selling or just junking an old piece of electronic equipment, make sure you have completely destroyed any digital data on the hardware. For hard drives or storage devices, use specialised disk wipe software to destroy the information. For media such as CDs, you can just simply destroy the data by shattering the CD.
4. Shredding Hard Copies of Documents
To prevent people from acquiring your personal information from “dumpster-diving”, be sure to shred all documents such as bank and credit card statements before disposing of them.
5. Check Your Monthly Statements
While some of us might consider this a bore, there are actually two benefits to be had from diligently checking your monthly bank and credit card statements. Firstly, you will be immediately aware if any of the statements is missing from there, eg. if someone has stolen them from your mailbox. Secondly, by scrutinizing the statements carefully you will be able to identify immediately any suspicious withdrawals or purchases if they pop up on your statements.
6. Pay Bills in Person
Always make it a point to pay your bills in person at an authorized payment center. Avoid leaving paid bills in the mail as your mail or mailbox can be easily raided by unscrupulous parties in order to acquire sensitive financial information.
7. Avoid Prewriting Your Cheques with Personal Information
While sometimes it is more convenient and faster to have your cheque prewritten with some information which identifies you, anyone who gets hold of your cheque or cheque book will also be able to gain access to critical information about you.
8. Checking Your Credit Record Yearly
Checking your credit record used to cost money before but now credit reporting agencies such as Experian and Noddle are providing free credit reports to anyone who wants to check their credit score.
9. Unsubscribe From Any Promotional Lists For Any Financial Products
Not only does unsubscribing from promotional lists help to reduce the clutter in your mailbox, it also prevents hackers from gathering any information about you should they be able to hack into the servers containing details of subscribers to the promotional lists.
10. Shop Online Only At Trusted Brands
With established online brands such as Amazon or BestBuy, you can be sure that all of your personal information is well protected as these brands rely heavily on building trust with their customers. Hence, it is not surprising for you to find these companies investing heavily in the protection and security of their digital data.