ARE YOU PREPARED?
Thinking critically about how you handle your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft. We’ve already touched on protecting yourself online, but it’s also important to take basic but fundamental physical precautions. By forming new hygienic personal data routines, and thinking critically about standard consumer practices, you can up your personal security game.
Over the next three posts, we will cover basic and advanced physical and digital precautions you can take to prevent identity theft. Here, we share Part I of essential data protection practices, which are some actionable steps that you can take today.
PHYSICALLY SECURING YOUR OFFLINE PERSONAL INFORMATION
In our contemporary, highly digitized society, basic physical precautions maintain their rightful place in the data protection hierarchy. Discourage local thieves from temptation by restricting access to your property by implementing barriers such safes, locks, and shredders.
Keep your information secure from roommates, guests, and contractors who are entering your home. Stow your financial documents and records in a safe or – at minimum – a locking cabinet. Also, lock your personal effects in a secure location at work, such as a desk with a key, your office door, or a personal safe. Never rely on security camera footage to help put the pieces together.
OUT OF SIGHT, ALWAYS IN MIND
If these options are not available to you, request a locker. Carry the key with you discreetly and maintain consistent safekeeping habits, independent of well-meaning associates who will “keep an eye on” your valuables. Lock insurance and registration information, mail, etc. in the storage compartment in your vehicle at all times.
Sometimes a photo of information from documentation on a cellphone is all a thief needs to locate your address of residence, steal your or a family member’s social security number (SSN), obtain banking information, and more. Unfortunately, the possibilities are endless.
ANOTHER REASON TO LIGHTEN YOUR WALLET
Make wallet hygiene an automatic habit by carrying the bare minimum documentation when leaving your residence. Take only the cards you need when going out, leaving your Social Security card at home in your safe, along with your birth, marriage certificates, and other vital records.
Copy your health insurance card and cover all but the last four digits of your SSN on the copy if it is displayed or save an image of it on your cellphone device. Carry the copy or digital file on your phone with you instead of the card unless you are going to use it for the pharmacy or a scheduled medical visit.
TRUST, BUT VERIFY
We are frequently asked for our phone numbers, email addresses, zip codes, birthdays, and more during transactions and typical exchanges in person and on the phone. This is the time to re-evaluate who has and who you will provide information to. Before sharing any information while shopping, at your workplace, a business, your child’s school, or a medical facility, ask yourself if what they’re requesting is critical to the business purposes, or if they’re collecting your data unnecessarily.
This is often postured as a measure of convenience or for rewards systems. Inquire why they’re requesting it, how they plan to protect it, and any hypothetical penalties or costs if you elect not to share specific information.
Next Article: American ID Recovery elaborates further on how to physically secure your offline personal data.
American ID Recovery has more great tips and tricks to help protect your personal information. Get in touch with a American ID Recovery representative today – before your identity is stolen!