Protect yourself before you wreck yourself
Today while I was doing some spring cleaning I realized I had many old documents and bills that didn't need to be filed but also shouldn't be thrown away. It's suggested that you should shred documents that contained your name, address, and other information.
In my case I don't have a shredder but I do have a wood burning stove that keeps our house warm every night! So my information sensitive documents went to the burn pile today! (Yes, it technically is spring. And yes, we are still using are wood stove. The glory of living through Maine winters!)
However destroying documents with your personal information on it is not the only thing you can do to protect you identity. The Living Young & Free Field Guide is a great resource for protecting yourself against identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is "the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person's private identifying information, usually for financial gain." That is, someone who is not you using your information to better their situation, often leaving you in debt and your record in bad shape.
Here are smart ways to avoid identity theft:
- Invest in software that blocks “malware” and online viruses.
- Clear your web browser’s cookies and cache regularly if you bank or apply for loans online.
- Combine letters and numbers in your PINs and passwords, and don’t use the same one for everything! Make a habit of changing your passwords every six to 12 months.
- Change your address with the post office immediately if you move. This way, no mail will be delivered to your previous address, and possibly into the wrong hands.
- Leave your Social Security card at home unless you need it that day.
- Really DO conceal your PIN-punching fingers by using your other hand as a shield. It’s not just for the person behind you, but also for illicit video cameras that could be recording your movements.
- Never trust any financial institution or company email that asks you to confirm passwords, account information or any personal information. Your credit union would never ask you for that information by email. If there is any problem with your account, you’ll receive a phone call or mail (that paper stuff).
- If you haven’t received any mail for a while, check with the post office to make sure a fraudulent change of address form hasn’t been submitted.
- Never, ever, ever trust a “Nigerian financier” who emails you asking to help transfer funds.
Hope this helps! For more tips about identity theft and other smart information about money check out the Living Young & Free Field Guide. You can also download the field guide as an iBook or PDF document so you can have it wherever you go!