How to Guard against Identity Theft
The best defence against identity theft is to be always aware that a thief may be lurking nearby. A security
mind set, when you are aware of potential breaches and taking precautions to avoid exposing yourself to any more
identity theft risks than you absolutely must, should become a habit. Make it difficult for identity thieves. That
way you are much less likely to have an identity theft problem.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
Do not carry all your credit cards and other identification details in your wallet or purse, only those you need
every day. That way having them stolen is less of a problem to manage. You will be careful to guard against theft
or loss at all times, but sometimes a clever thief can surprise you and get around your precautions. If you do lose
your wallet or purse it can be a relief to have a backup available.
Keep personal identification material in a secure place in your home when not being used, preferably under lock
Keep the telephone and card number details you need to cancel your credit cards readily available as backup,
somewhere other than with your cards in your purse or wallet, in case you lose them. This is especially important
if you are travelling. When travelling you should also keep backup details for your passport number and other
important identity information. To speed up your passport replacement, should you lose it when travelling, you will
often find it helps to have an official birth certificate available in your back up documentation, alongside such
other details as your camera serial number, spectacle prescription, etc.
Never give important identity details, most especially details like PIN numbers or passwords, if requested over
the phone or by email. Such requests are almost certainly a scam. Promptly delete the email or hang up the
Keep your PC secured against spyware, especially if you use Windows and are connected to the internet, because
malicious programs such as keystroke logger programs can collect and send vital details, such as your bank account
log in codes, to criminals without your knowledge.
It is a good practice to change your passwords every month or two, where you have this option. That way any
break in your security is short-lived, and the identity thief must start again. Your passwords should be hard to
guess by avoiding obvious names or dates, and by mixing letters and numbers where possible.
Do not display important identity details unnecessarily. Your social security number, medical insurance
identification, driver's licence, military identification and other such personal identity information, other than
perhaps your name, address and telephone number, should be kept well secured. They should not be readily available
where you study or work, especially on public forms or notice boards. This information should not appear on any
business transaction documents, such as receipts: object if it does.
While you may think it convenient, such detail should not be pre-printed on your checks, and preferably use some
less sensitive form of identification when presenting your checks, if you still use checks.
Only provide this information when necessary, not just because it was asked for, even when dealing with
legitimate businesses. Does the requester have a legitimate reason for wanting this information? Refuse to give it
unless they have. A "need to know" policy - only those who need the information should have it - is the corner
stone of most security systems.
Lock your mailbox, or use a post box. If your mail volume suddenly changes, check in case it has been redirected
by an identity thief, either at the post office or for just specific mail such as your credit card statements. For
example, a clever identity thief can prolong his use of your stolen credit card details by preventing you from
seeing your credit card statements.
Be very careful what personal identification goes out with your trash. Shred (crosscut) old credit cards,
business transaction and correspondence details, statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc. Just learning
your account number with a company from an invoice may enable an identity thief to buy from that company in your
Take pains to be sure you are not watched when entering your debit card PIN number. Remember it. Do not carry it
in writing with the card.
Be very aware that you may be overheard when giving personal identification details verbally, and take
Avoid giving sensitive identity information by email or telephone, especially mobile telephone, as for most of
us these are not fully secure means of communication.
Never let your credit card out of your sight at retail shops or restaurants.
Be alert to your vehicle registration plates being stolen. Change the type of screws used to a less common type,
such as one with a square-driving slot, to make casual theft more difficult.
Check your bank balances regularly, and all your other transaction statements such as for credit cards, promptly
when received, to look for any irregularities.
Use obscure question and answer information for password recovery options, information that is unique to you. A
determined identity thief could fairly easily find your mother's maiden name from public records, for example. He
is much less likely to be able to come up with the name of your first puppy or your favorite movie star, for
Exercise your rights to periodically check what information is held about you at credit companies, direct
marketing companies and other sources that an identity thief could conceivably access. Search occasionally for your
name on the internet. What you find could lead you to ask for less personal identification material to be available
publicly through corporations. It may also give you warning of the activities of an identity thief using your