Criminals use a number of methods to commit identity theft, some less high-tech than others, many of which involve stealing your personal information from right outside your doorstep. These old-fashioned identity theft tactics occur at or around your home, so it’s important to remain conscious of ways you can be exposed. Here are five tips on how to reduce your risk of identity theft happening in or around your home.
1. Be conscious of what you are throwing in the trash.
“Dumpster-diving” remains one of the top non-Internet ways thieves collect a victims’ data, according to the Federal Trade Commission. As the name suggests, the process involves rummaging through your trash when you put it out for pickup. Most of the personal or financial details that a criminal needs to assume your identity comes from your bank and credit card statements, bills and even credit card solicitations.
2. Shred all mail that contains identifying data and financial account information.
Even if the details listed are incomplete, the best way to dispose of sensitive information is to shred it. This means if your cell phone bill lists your customer account number, your name, address or the last four digits of your Social Security number: shred it. Criminals have committed identity theft with less information in the past.
3. Elect to receive electronic communications where applicable.
Some criminals may not wait for you to throw your mail away, choosing instead to steal directly from your mailbox. Opting to pay your bills online will reduce the amount of sensitive information that is sent to your home, and lower your identity theft risk, just make sure your online security software is up to date If you prefer to maintain a copy of paper statements for your records, you can opt to have bills, bank statements and other private documents sent to a locked P.O. Box, rather than your home address which may not be as secure.
4. Opt-out of credit card solicitations.
Criminals may open lines of credit by way of pre-approved credit card solicitations, submitting the application under your name and sending the credit card to their address.
5. Enroll in credit monitoring.
Many Americans have found credit monitoring to be an effective method of staying abreast of their financial information. This credit tool monitors your credit report daily and alerts you to key changes. Monitoring changes to your credit, such as a new line of credit in your name or an account in delinquency, may help you detect identity theft and is frequently provided for victims of major security breaches.