How To Prevent Identity Theft
9 Steps To Keep Your Information Safe
Identity theft is a serious crime that affects people of all ages every day. Take these steps to help prevent identity theft:
- Downsize your wallet. Carry what you really need in your wallet, which should be limited to one or two credit/debit cards only. DON'T carry your Social Security card with you unless you'll be required to show it for a job interview or some other purpose. Your birth certificate and passport should also stay safely at home under most circumstances.
- Shred sensitive documents. You have no control over your trash once it's taken away from your curb, and thieves DO paw through trash bags hoping to find documents that can help them steal your identity. Don't make it easy for them! Shredders are very affordable; if you don't have one, get one.
- Be wary when asked for personal information over the phone. Unless you initiated the call or you have reason to trust the caller, NEVER give out your name, address, social security number or date of birth to anyone calling you claiming to be from your bank or other 'alleged' organization. If you feel there might be a compelling reason for the institution to need the information you were asked for, hang up and call the company back.
- If you order checks, arrange to pick them up at your bank or credit union. If your checks land in your mailbox and thieves manage to intercept them, they can have a field day spending your money. Cut them off at the pass by keeping your blank checks out of the mail.
- Examine your bank and credit card statements each month. Look for unfamiliar charges and check into them immediately if you spot any. Also, know when your statements typically arrive each month and, if one is late, follow up on it right away. It may be that an identity thief has intercepted one of your statements and is about to make a run on your identity.
- Keep your Social Security number and date of birth private. DON'T have your bank print your social security number or date of birth on your checks, and evaluate the request any time you're asked to provide these numbers. Does the requester REALLY need this information? Many doctor's offices store patient records by either social security number or date of birth; if you're asked to provide this information to pull up your records and other people are nearby, write the number down and show it to the person asking for it if you're in person. If you're on the phone, lower your voice when you give the numbers.
- Store a non-digital copy of your information at home. Create a document containing your credit card numbers and expiration dates as well as bank account numbers, and contact information for your bank and credit card companies. Store the information in a safe place at home, and consider leaving it with a trusted relative. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you can quickly contact authorities to keep your money safe.
- Be wary at the ATM. Be aware of who's around you when you're using an ATM. A thief may attempt to take a photo of the numbers on your ATM card from behind you. When entering your password/PIN, shield your fingers with your other hand or with your body. Don't worry about seeming paranoid; hopefully anyone seeing you do it will think you're being appropriately cautious. They may even take your lead and start shielding too!
- Be clever when creating passwords or PINs. Identity thieves can use computer programs to try to discover your password or PIN. Make this harder for them by creating unique passwords or PINs that contain a mix of letters, numbers and non-alpha characters. Also, memorize all of your pins; never write them down and carry them around with you.
GEICO Portfolio Identity Protection offers plans at affordable rates—just $7.99 a month for an individual plan, $8.99 a month for couples, or $9.99 a month to protect your family. Enroll today!
Identity Protection is provided by Iris Powered by Generali, and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. © 2022 GEICO
The above descriptions are meant as general information, do not refer to any specific terms and conditions and do not modify any terms and conditions of the GEICO Portfolio Identity Protection Program. We encourage you to speak to a representative and to read your plan to fully understand your benefits.
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