ID Theft Prevention:
Keep Your Cards, Documents and Passwords Safe

Identity thieves often prey on their victims by stealing victims' personal information from documents they throw out or receive in the mail. Finding out a password or getting their hands on a pre-approved credit cards or social security numbers are even luckier breaks for identity thieves. That's why it's important to learn how to keep these things safe. It's a great way to prevent identity theft! Your identity is one of your most precious commodities, and the last thing you want is to become a victim of identity theft.

Keep Your Cards and Documents Safe

If you are going away on vacation, ask someone you know and trust to collect and hold your mail while you're away or ask for it to be held at the post office. Arrange to collect important mail like new cheque books and plastic cards from your local branch if you live on a property where others can access your mail. When you receive pre-approved credit offers or cheques from your credit card company, shred them before you throw them out. When you move, notify all institutional you deal with immediately. Also, notify your postal service and have all mail forwarded to your new address for at least a year. If you think your mail be lost or stolen, report it immediately to your postal service and get them to look into it. Check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowing it. If so, cancel it immediately and notify all institutions you have been dealing with over mail.

Keep your personal information in a private and secure place at home, especially if you have roommates or tenants, employ outside help, or are having work done on your home. You may choose to keep certain valuable documents in a private safe at your bank.

Protect your social security number by never carrying your card in your wallet - instead keep it in a safe place at home. There is no reason for you to need this card or your number on a daily, or even monthly, basis. Don't carry anything in your wallet that you don't need on a day-to-day basis. Instead, keep these things in a safe place at home.

Shred cards, financial documents, and paperwork with your personal information on it before you discard them. You never know who could be sifting through your trash.

If your plastic cards, wallet, driver's license, or passport are lost or stolen report it immediately. Get a new account number for or cancel all accounts for the cards that have been stolen.

Keep Your Passwords Secure

Don't use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, the name of a pet, or the last four digits of your social security number. Non-obvious passwords may be harder to create and remember, but your accounts will be more secure with their use.

Don't use the same password for more than one account. Also, never use banking passwords for any other website. Never use your bank PIN number as a part of any other password you need to create.

Try to avoid recording or storing your passwords altogether - memorize them. If you must do so, never record or store your passwords in a place that leaves them open to theft like your purse or wallet. Also, never jot internet passwords down in a place for easy reference near your computer, especially if it's a portable computer or a work computer. Anyone looking over your shoulder or passing by your computer will have access to these passwords.

If your personal computer is used by someone besides yourself, do not use the auto-complete feature for passwords or other personal information.

Never give your passwords and PINs out to anyone and change your passwords regularly. If you suspect someone may have gotten a hold of your password, change it immediately, and monitor your account for changes.

If you need to make up a verification question or password hint, don't use anything obvious. Think up a question that you're sure no one else knows. There's no point to having a secret password if someone can easily obtain or change your password through an obvious hint or verification question.

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A computer crash can occur at anytime and on any computer.

By backing up your files--personal documents, financial records, and digital pictures--you can ensure that you will never loose your precious and irreplaceable information.

There are many ways one can back up a computer: special equipment or online programs, which are becoming increasingly popular, can help you to create a sort of 'insurance policy' for the protection of all of your computer-based data.