Most recently, over the holiday season, Target Stores reported that their security had been breached and it affected over 40 million people.
Between November 27 and December 15, 2013, the unauthorized access took place in the U.S. Target Stores.
Identity theft is a serious crime that occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. It can cost you time and money, destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
There are steps you can take to deter theives bu safeguarding your information:
Shred It- Anything that contains your personal information, especially financial documents, should be shredded when discarding them.
Keep Your Personal Information In A Secure Place - Use a fireproof/water proof security lock box or safe to protect your information from theft. If you have roommates, employ outside help or have work done in your home, this is especially important. This includes passports, social security cards, passwords and bank/credit card information.
Don't Use Obvious Passwords - When online, don' use your birthdate, your mother's maiden name or the last four digits of your social security number as a password. These are too obvious to identity thieves.
Don't Give Out Personal Information - When on the phone, on the internet or corresponding by mail, do not give out personal information to anyone you do not know. Know who you are dealing with.
Protect Your Social Security Number - Don't carry your social security card in your wallet or write your social security number on a check. Give it out only if necessary. Ask to use another form of identification instead if possible.
Check Your Credit Report - They contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. You are entitled to a free report each year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, if you ask for it. I suggest spreading the requests out throughout the year, instead of asking for all three reports at the same time. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to order your free credit reports each year.
It is important that you check your bank statements, credit card statements and billing statements each and every time you receive them to identify any charges you did not make so you can rectify them quickly.
Be careful! Identify theft is on the rise and you need more diligent than ever when it comes to protecting yourself.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe New Year!