It is estimated that someone’s identity is stolen every two seconds. Security expert Frank Abagnale offers some suggestions on how to prevent it from happening to you.
- Lock your mailbox. If your mailbox doesn’t lock, you can buy one that does for about $40
- Don’t leave valuables in your car, particularly your laptop, mobile phone and wallet
- Shred sensitive documents, don’t just throw them in the trash or recycling bin. Micro-cut shredders, which shred documents into confetti, are available for around $30
- Use a password to secure your smartphone. Avoid obvious passwords, such as your birthday, pet names and sequential numbers like 1,2,3,4
- Change the password on your computer regularly, at least once every three months. In addition, use strong passwords on all your financial accounts
- Don’t share your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary
- Don’t carry your Medicare card unless you are going to a health care appointment. Make a copy of your card instead, and block out all but the last four digits
- Don’t reveal personal information over the phone, on the Internet or when using regular mail unless the contact was initiated by you. Similarly, don’t respond to communications purportedly from financial institutions. Instead, contact the institution yourself
You can learn more about identity theft by visiting http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2016/ways-to-protect-against-id-theft.html. This link will also allow you to visit AARP’s interactive Scam-tracking Map and see law enforcement alerts about fraud and scams in your area.