Prior to becoming a safety adviser for the National Association of REALTORS® Andrew Wooten had offered his expertise and information to our students. We are re-posting from his series of articles in memoriam of his exceptional service to us and the industry, continuing today with part 2 of one of his most popular posts.
In part 1 of this two part series, we discussed some of the ways that scammers will steal your identity. This time let's take a look at some ways you can protect yourself.
Lock Down Your Information from identity theives
How can you protect yourself? Make these identity-protecting steps a habit:
- Memorize your Social Security number and all your passwords and PINs.
- Sign all your credit cards upon receipt and never loan your cards to anyone.
- Save all your credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
- Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately, and notify credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change in your address or phone numbers.
- Order your credit report annually and inspect it for anything suspicious.
- When you make Internet purchases, be sure it's through a secure website.
- When you complete a credit or loan application, you only need to list the last four digits of credit cards. This is enough information for creditors to match up what's on your credit report.
Most importantly, protect yourself by leaving your "identity" at home, not in your wallet or purse. You should never carry around your birth certificate, passport, PINs or Social Security card. If you carry blank checks, carry only as many as you need-and do not print your driver's license number or Social Security number on your checks. Keep back-up records of all your credit card information in a secure place at home. Finally, don't take out your wallet until you actually need it. Never put it down next to a cash register, on a bar or even on top of your car.
If you become aware of anyone using your identity, immediately notify the creditor involved, law enforcement authorities and the major credit bureaus.
In addition, be extremely wary of companies (even well-established, legitimate companies) that are selling monthly protection plans, there is no 100% guarantee! But, following these guidelines can help decrease the possibility of you becoming a victim of identity theft. For more information, contact S.A.F.E.
Guest author Andrew Wooten (August 19, 1962 - February 26, 2013) was the President of Safety Awareness Firearms Education (S.A.F.E.), and had been in the safety and security industry for the past twenty-six years. His platform successes led him to the creation of Crime Awareness Prevention Seminars (C.A.P.S.). He is a recognized expert in safety and security and speaks to thousands of professionals every year. You can find out more online at http://www.justbesafe.com.