12 Simple Things You Can Do to Protect Your Identity and Personal Information …

12 Simple Things You Can Do to Protect Your Identity and Personal Information 001

In this day and age, particularly with technology, dishonest people are using more sophisticated means to access your personal information.  You may or may not know someone who has experienced this problem but with a stolen identity, people can do all kinds of things like apply for loans or welfare benefits in your name or access and use your savings or credit cards.  Any of those things could cause enormous stress, cost a lot of money that may never be recovered and play havoc with credit ratings but there are some very simple steps that I try to take to safeguard my personal information.  I wouldn’t leave money lying around for others to pick up and I treat my personal information in the same way.

Here are 12 simple things I do to help protect my personal information:

  • When withdrawing money from an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) I try to be aware of who is around and may be watching.  I protect my PIN number by covering my hand as I key in the numbers and I always keep my receipt.  I avoid using ATM’s in dark, lonely locations because I feel this makes me an easy target.  I will withdraw cash whenever I can while at the supermarket because at least that way I’m dealing with a real person rather than a machine in the wall that can dispense incorrect amounts of money.  I always check my receipt to make sure the correct amount of money has been handed over.  It’s a good idea to always guard you PIN number and never share it.  I never use obvious dates like birthdays or anniversaries when deciding on a PIN number.
  • A long time ago I purchased a Paper Shredder.  I keep it under my desk in the office where it is easy to access and shred any documents/letters/envelopes that contain my name, address, phone numbers, account numbers or any other sensitive or confidential information. Any pre-approved applications I receive in the mail for loans or credit cards, I shred and destroy these to prevent anyone completing these applications by altering the details and applying without me even realising.
  • Whenever I travel, I protect my passport and other travel documents by storing them in hotel safes.  If I do need to carry these documents I wear a document belt that is concealed beneath my clothing.
  • I keep my letterbox locked with a padlock.  If I’m going to be away I arrange for someone to collect my mail so that it’s not obvious that my house is vacant with an overflowing letterbox.  I find now that I receive very little mail delivered in the old fashioned way by the postman as I’ve arranged for most statements and bills to be delivered by email.  I prefer this because it’s more secure, I get the information quicker and I don’t ever have to worry about missing mail.  Another good idea is to have a postbox at the post office.
  • I’m very careful with emails where I don’t recognise the sender or if it appears to be from my bank.  I’m aware that my bank will never contact me in this way asking me to provide confidential information, click on links to other pages or to change passwords.
  • The same goes with phone calls, particularly from banks.  If something sounds unusual or I don’t know the caller, I politely end the call and then visit my branch as soon as possible to report what occurred and to check whether or not the enquiry was authentic.
  • I also protect any electronic data and USB’s or hard drives.  I store very little information on my computer and save everything to USB’s or hard drives.  At nighttime or whenever I leave the house, I remove them from the computer and store them safely in a spot in the house that isn’t obvious.
  • My hubby and I keep every receipt and ATM withdrawal slip to compare against our statements each month.  I also regularly check all our accounts on line so that I can identify any discrepancy or error quickly.
  • I safely store identity documents like birth certificates and passports in a locked filing cabinet.
  • Social media is now so much a part of our everyday lives but I do try to be careful about the amount of personal information I reveal and also limit how much information I share about my kids.
  • I always keep our wallets, purses and handbags safe and store them away in a cupboard when returning home.  I never leave these items or other valuable items like mobile phones, ipads or computers visible in the car.
  • I always set really strong passwords particularly when setting up online accounts.  I also make it a habit to change those regularly.

I certainly don’t live in fear of this happening but I think awareness is important so you can take some simple steps to protect yourself.

So tell me, do you have any other tips to share with regards to safeguarding your personal information and keeping it secure?

Comments

  1. I just wrote the longest comment and it disappeared! I recently had my credit card cancelled because it came up on ‘a list’. While it’s great that the bank was onto it before the crooks used my card, there was still the annoyance of having to re-set-up all my direct debits. I’ve also decided to reduce the limit on all my credit cards so there’s never a lot of available credit for any opportunists. If I need to make a major purchase, I can always transfer over the funds at that time xx

    • Not sure what happened to your other comment … sorry about that! Reducing your credit limit is a great idea for limiting your financial exposure if ever your card is lost or stolen. I also always contact my bank before we travel to let them know we will be away so they don’t put a hold on our card when they notice some unusual activity!

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