8 Strategies for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe from Identity Theft

In today's world identity theft is on the rise, and identity fraud can happen to anyone. We all need to learn to protect ourselves, your social security number is not the only key to your identity.  Any personal information can be used to steal your identity.  Take action and secure you identity now.

Don't give out your credit information over the phone. Charities always call for donations.  Ask them to send you written information about the charity.  If they are not willing to cooperate id could be a scam and tell them you're not interested.

Jack Vonder Heide, president and CEO of Technology Briefing Centers says we should avoid giving out personal information in responding to marketing offers.  When filling out warranty cards and membership cards, only give the necessary information.  They don't need you birth date, income level, etc. He also says not to give out your phone number at retail points of sale.

Almost everyone uses some sort of social networking site.  Do not give out your personal information on social networking sites.  You don't need to put your address, phone number or full birth date on your profile.  Be cautious.

Be wary of submitting personal information to job seeking websites. The internet can be a great way to find a job.  When looking for a job never give out your information to a potential employer until you have been hired.  When using an online job board to post your information check their privacy policies, they may be allowed to sell your information and always do a background check on companies before submitting your resume. Always use a secure internet connection.

Keep your social security number safe. You should not carry your social security number card in your wallet or keep it in your car.  Either keep it in a safe place at home such as a small safe or if you have a safety deposit box at your bank then keep it their.  Also make sure it is not printed on your checks or drivers license. You should also be aware of when you should and should not give out your social security number or SSN.

When you are mailing sensitive documents or anything that contains personal information don't put the flag up on your mailbox.  People do steal mail and that little red flag is like a homing beacon.  If you can get a locking mailbox that only you and your mail person have a key to.

Always shred documents.  We are all guilty of tossing things in the trash without a second thought.  But that annoying piece of paper is a gift for a thief.

The director of policy and advocacy at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Paul Stephens, says that in general, only give out your information on a need-to-know basis.  Before you give out your personal information, figure out: Why does this person need my information, and how much of that information do they need?

So remember that all personal information no matter how trivial it may seem, can be used to steal your identity.  Don't be another victim, be proactive and protect yourself.  And if you have been a victim, be sure you know the right steps to take to react to identity fraud.

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