You are walking down a dark alley, and you sense a shadowy figure approaching. The person stops you, pulls out a gun, and demands your wallet. While this scenario used to seem scary (and still does to some degree), it appears to be the preferred scenario if no violence is involved compared with having your identity stolen. While a mugger can take your cash and maybe a few credit cards, those can easily be canceled and replaced. However, what cannot be replaced is the use by someone of your identity or social security number.
Social Security numbers have become the golden key into someone’s life. If someone else has access to it, they can perform all sorts of identity theft. They can apply for credit in your name and then not pay up. They can assume your identity in many ways and get you into trouble. Imagine someone using it to create a false government I.D. and then committing a crime using your identity. The scenarios go on and on in regard to how dangerous this can be. But how do you prevent it?
The best ways to prevent identity theft is to safeguard your social security number. Many places ask for it and then stick it into their bundle of files. However, any employee can come along and take a gander at it. Even the janitor or cleaning service could gain access to that information. Let’s say they decide to throw out old files. They shred them and put them in the dumpster. However, some shady character comes by takes the files out of the dumpster and begins to play jigsaw puzzle and reconstructs them. They then have full access to personal information including your social security number. Don’t be naive…This happens! This strategy is a better score for a criminal than breaking into your home or safe. If your credit is good enough, then they have temporary unlimited access to tens of thousands of dollars in your name and potentially more. So keeping this in mind, don’t let just any business have your social security number. There are certain ones that must have it for you to begin a relationship, but limit those connections and ask if it is necessary for them actually to have your SS number. They might push back, but in the end, they should give in to your resistance. Here are some other tips to protect yourself-
- Check your accounts regularly- Bank accounts, credit card accounts, any other financial account to make sure that there has not been fraud or theft that has taken place.
- Always use credit cards online- Using these rather than other forms of payments gives you immense amounts of protection when making an online purchase.
- Monitor your credit report- Make sure you can see who has been checking your credit recently. If you notice something that you haven’t authorized, then you may have an identity issue.