Identity theft costs its victims billions of dollars globally each year. Fortunately, there are some very simple things you can do to protect yourself. These 5 spots can be goldmines for identity thieves, so they’re the perfect places to protect yourself.
- Your trash: It’s the low-tech approach, for sure, but it can be an easy place to pick up pieces of your personal information. Thankfully, this low-tech problem has a low-tech solution – a paper shredder. For less than $50, this handy tool will chew up your documents making them useless to thieves. Bank statements, expired credit cards, bills and anything else with your name and address on it should go through the shredder before it hits the garbage or recycle bin.
- Your phone: Your cellphone’s a treasure trove of your personal information, so make sure it’s password protected. Also, make sure you can track your phone if it happens to go missing. This is also called the ‘find my phone’ feature. You should also beware of unsecured Wi-Fi networks – don’t use them if you’re shopping or using online banking. Finally, try to keep any sensitive information off your phone.
- The PIN pad: Shield the keypad when you enter your personal identification number (PIN), keep your cards in sight at all times, choose a PIN that’s hard to guess, and don’t reuse your PIN for other cards or to unlock your cellphone.
- Your mailbox: This is another low-tech source of personal information for thieves. Know your billing cycles so you’ll notice when a bill or statement is missing. If you suddenly stop receiving something, check with the post office to make sure it hasn’t been illegally rerouted to a different address. If you can lock your mailbox, do it.
- Your computer: Keep your firewall, anti-virus and operating system software up-to-date. Enable spam filters on your email accounts. Look out for sketchy links and emails. Ignore any suspicious password reset requests, unexpected tracking numbers or anything that asks for your personal information via email. Don’t overshare on social media. Do your Facebook friends really need to know what year you were born? Can people tell when no one is home based on your Instagram feed? Keep your accounts private and make sure you’re not accidentally broadcasting sensitive information.
Got questions about identity theft? Give our Contact Centre a call at 1.866.863.6237.