1. Why Should I Be Concerned About Identity Theft?
The FTC has collected data about the age groups of “Identity Theft Victims”. Guess what? The age group 18-29 had the highest reported identity theft complaints in 2006. Here are some hints on how to protect yourself: (See page 7 of the 2006 report)
2. Guard Your Personal Information.
Always ask WHY your personal information is being requested and how it will be used. Don’t post personal information on networking sites like Facebook. Be aggressively skeptical when an e-mail or phone caller warns that your account has been compromised. Never give out account numbers or personal information over the phone if you have not initiated the call.
3. Shred Materials With Personal Information
The cheapest and easiest way to secure the personal information, especially Social Security numbers, in documents and mail is to SHRED these materials when you are done with them. To cut down on paper, consider using secure, online banking and bill paying options. Plus, make sure you store important documents you must hold onto, like tax documents, in a safe place.
4. Protect Your Valuables and Identification Documents.
Find a secure location within your dorm/apartment that is appropriate for valuables such as cash, jewelry etc., as well as your personal identity items like your check book, Social Security card, passport, etc.
5. Protect Your Laptop.
Thinking of taking your laptop on the road or to the coffee shop? It’s a great way to work and stay in touch when you are out and about. Make sure you keep your laptop safe and with you at all times. You should also take precautions when using free, wireless networks. Want more information about how to protect your laptop? Visit http://onguardonline.gov/laptop.html for more suggestions.
6. List of cards etc.
Protect your personal identity by making a list of all the cards you carry on your person: driver’s license, credit cards, debit cards, etc. Include in the list not only the identifying numbers for each account but also a contact telephone number (usually an 800 number) that you would call if one is misplaced, stolen, or when you suspect your identity has been compromised. Store this information in a safe spot!