Identity theft has become commonplace, and protecting yourself from fraud is crucial now more than ever. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, the highest figure recorded since the firm began tracking fraud instances in 2004. Here are a few suggestions to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim:
- Be cautious of how you handle physical, paper documents. Don’t put personal mail in your mailbox. Need to mail a check? Go to the post office or around town and drop the envelope into a locked postal box. When you put a check in your mailbox and lift the red flag, you’re letting anyone who passes by know that this is an opportunity to steal your information.
- Invest in a micro-shredder. There is now software available that can piece together that credit card bill you just shredded into strips.
- Change the way you receive your mail. Do not have financial statements or credit card statements mailed to your home; elect for e-delivery instead.
- When you’re logging in to your personal accounts online, utilize the “virtual keyboard” if available instead of the one on your actual computer. This will prevent a log of your key-strokes if malware has infected your computer.
- Avoid banking or making purchases on a mobile device.
- Carry your credit cards inside an RFID sleeve or RFID wallet to prevent criminals from pulling the signal on your card and charging it.
- When you’re paying at-the-pump, look for any abnormalities. Most skimmers are very difficult to detect, but many businesses have installed a tape over the pump that alerts you when it’s been tampered with.
- Always cover your card numbers with your hand as you’re swiping your card in public, ESPECIALLY American Express as the security code is also on the front of the card. This will prevent someone from taking a picture of your card without your knowledge.