4 Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Identity Theft

As technology becomes more advanced and criminals become more sophisticated, identity theft has become an issue not just for businesses, but also for the average American. Identity theft is defined by the Federal Trade Commission as the appropriation of your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. About 11.7 million Americans were victims of theft between 2006 and 2008, the FTC reported.

While it's impossible to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft, there are several ways you can reduce your risk. By being aware of the issue and carefully managing your personal information, you can help protect yourself.

Consider these tips for minimizing your risk of identity theft:

1. Secure your SSN – Memorize your SSN, and don’t carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. Your SSN is very valuable to thieves. Do not give out your SSN unless absolutely necessary, such as to a government organization or new employer. In other circumstances, ask to use another identifier.

2. Know your billing cycles – Take note of your billing cycles and call your creditor right away if your bills do not arrive on time. If your credit card bill is missing, it could signal a criminal gained access to your account and has changed the billing address to prevent you from finding out.

3. Manage your mail – An identity thief can slip into your mailbox and steal something bearing all of your personal information. Know what time your mail is usually delivered and collect it as soon as possible. If you are going to be out of town, ask the post office to hold it until you return or have a loyal neighbor collect it for you. Also avoid putting any outgoing mail into your personal mailbox, unless it is secure. Instead, take it to the post office.

4. Utilize passwords – Set passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. When creating a password, avoid using information that's easily available, such as your birthdate or last four digits of your phone number. It's also a good idea to switch up the passwords for each account, rather than using the same password for everything.

If you believe someone has stolen your identity, contact a private investigator in New York right away. Our private detectives will determine whether you have become a victim of identity theft and do everything possible to help you recover.

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