With identity theft constantly on the rise, safely protecting your private information can be a lot to ask for these days. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help protect yourself from falling prey to identity theft. Today, we’re going to discuss 11 simple, yet vitally important steps, you can take to protect yourself and your good name.

  1. Abolish private records and statements. Be sure to shred any and all old bank and credit card statements and keep any recent statements in a safe place. Statements generally carry enough private financial information about you to ruin your name, so only keep what is necessary and make sure those documents and statements cannot be easily accessed.
  2. Protect your mail. Make sure you regularly check your mail and bring it inside. If you are going to be away, even for just a couple of days, have a neighbor or friend stop by to bring it on or pick it up for you. You can also try locking your mailbox or even getting a P.O. box so fraudsters cannot easily gain access to your private mail.

If you still manually mail out payments, do your best to not mail your payments directly from home. If possible, try to mail them out from a secure mailbox or by bringing them directly to the post office.

  1. Keep our Social Security Number safe. As instructed, we should never bring our social security card with us. It should be stored in a safe place. Once a perpetrator knows your social security number, they could literally destroy your life. The same goes for any additional bank or credit cards, and even healthcare cards.
  2. Don’t leave a paper trail. After withdrawing funds from a public ATM or making a purchase with your card at any store, be sure to take your receipt or opt out of receiving one. All too often, people leave their receipts behind which has cost some people to lose their identity.
  3. Don’t let your credit card out of sight. Are you concerned about credit card scanning? Be sure to keep an eye on your credit or debit card whenever you have to hand it over to sales clerk, or just always pay with cash. Most retail businesses do not take your cards anymore, but some still do. Be wary of this as not all employees ad businesses are trustworthy.
  4. Be aware of who you are dealing with. If anyone contacts you asking for personal financial information, do not hand it over without asking for and collecting important information. If they refuse to hand it over, then definitely do not continue contact with them. If they provide you with some information, do your homework. However, your bank or any other company you may have services with will never contact you to confirm your private information. If they need to ensure your information is current and up to date, they will ask you when you call or visit their office or branch. When people move or their information changes, they generally update it on their own anyway.
  5. Be smart with social media accounts. It is quite surprising that social media accounts ask for certain details such as phone numbers and addresses, or the fact that they provide fields for this information. Too many people provide these details along with details about their location, which has made the job of modern-day fraudsters much easier.
  6. Be protective of personal info. Some sales or customer service reps may ask for your social security number or driver’s license. Ask questions about why these details are necessary. Some transactions may require it, but most organizations only ask for the last 4 digits of your SSN, which is about all they are entitled to.
  7. Monitor your credit report. It highly recommended that you regularly monitor your credit report. There are a few different services out there that will send you regular updates about any activity on your credit report. If there is anything alarming, you will know it about it right away.
  8. Carefully review your credit card statements. Make certain you recognize your transactions and the companies you purchased goods and services from. If anything looks off or you do not recognize something, get in touch with your credit card company immediately.
  9. Monitor your financial statements. Report any suspicious activity in your bank or credit card accounts the instant you notice it.

When an identity is stolen for financial gain, it generally doesn’t take very long for criminals to make someone’s financial life a complete mess. Recovering from identity theft and bank fraud can be time consuming, expensive, and frustrating. Through your own due diligence by following these simple steps, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of blackmail extortion.

Author's Bio: 

Jeremiah Owyang is an internet entrepreneur and investor.