The most recent identity fraud report, by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that 13.1 million people were victims of identity theft in 2015. The number of identity fraud victims was at its second highest level in six years.
Preventing identity theft starts with managing your personal information carefully and sensibly.
Here are a few simple precautions we recommend to keep your personal information safe:
1. Only carry essential documents with you.
Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside the house can help you prevent identity theft
2. Keep new checks out of the mail.
When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by identity thieves.
3. Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone.
Identity thieves may call, posing as banks or government agencies. Do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
4. Your trash is their treasure.
To prevent identity theft, shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.
5. Make sure others are keeping you safe.
Ensure that your employer, landlord and anyone else with access to your personal data keeps your records safe.
6. Stay on top of your credit.
Make sure your credit reports are accurate and that you sign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report.
7. Protect your Social Security number.
Make sure your bank does not print your SSN on your personal checks.
8. Follow your credit card billing cycles closely.
Identity thieves can start by changing your billing address. Making sure you receive your credit card bill every month is an easy way to prevent identity theft.
9. Keep a list of account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers filed away.
If your wallet is stolen, being able to quickly alert your creditors is essential to prevent identity theft.
10. Create passwords and PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers.
Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes. For more tips about securing your password, check out our post about passwords here.
Hopefully, you are already in the habit of protecting your identity through some (or all) of these tips. If you're a Windstream customer, you can rest a little easier when you purchase one of our three security packages.
From our simplified Windstream Shield Lite security package to the robust Windstream Shield Premium, each of these security packages includes a personal ID theft protection and credit score access with Credit Guard. Because in this digital day in age, preparation is key before you're another identity theft number.