Making some resolutions for 2013? Here is a list of five things you can do to reduce your risk of identity theft, provided by Experian's Protect My ID website.
1. Lock up your social security card! Get it out of your wallet! Put this valuable card, along with all other important personal documents, in a safe, locked box or safety deposit box.
2. Don't share your Social Security Number (SSN) unnecessarily. Ask questions: Why do you need it? What happens if I don't give it to you? Who gets to see it? What are you going to do with it? Legitimate reasons to provide your SSN are limited and include: verifying identity for employment; establishing new lines of credit; participating in government benefit programs; and for tax purposes.
3. Invest in a good cross-cut shredder and USE IT! Destroy all documents that include personal identifying information (account numbers, birth dates, SSN, etc.). This includes those pre-approved credit card offers that fill your mailbox. When in doubt, shred it!
4. Consider investing in a locked mailbox. Additionally, make it a habit to take out-going mail to the post office and stop using your "come steal me" red flag.
5. Take the time to place passwords on all your accounts and change the old ones. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, credit card accounts, etc. Be creative and use something that cannot be easily guessed by someone who may know you. A good verbal password is NOT the last four digits of your SSN, your mother's maiden name, your pet's name or anniversaries or birthdays. A random word, not associated with you or your life, is highly recommended.