One only has to go into any store to be reminded that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. While, for most, these are traditionally times for giving and being thankful, for others, it is a time for taking – in particular, taking someone else’s identity.
Earlier this year, Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs, in conjunction with the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute, sent out essential information that can assist us in safeguarding our identities as well as steps to take if ours has been violated. These tips will be paraphrased below as reminders for all of us to be extra careful during this busy season to protect ourselves from identity thieves.
Safeguard your personal information
- Shred financial documents and other paperwork that may contain personal information
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet
- Never carry more credit cards than you needs
- Cancel credit card accounts you don’t use
- Never give out personal information via phone, through the mail, or over the Internet
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails
- Use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your home computer(s) – keep them up-to-date
- Don’t use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number
- Don’t use the same password on multiple sites
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home
- Never leave mail unattended in an unsecure mailbox as this provides an open opportunity for theft.
- Routinely monitor your financial accounts and billing statements
- Inspect your credit reports
Stay tuned for a follow-up article as to what to do if you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of identity theft.
A special thanks to Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs for sharing this information that was prepared and distributed by the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute for which Sheriff Isaacs has been a past president.