Tip #9: Practice Safe Banking, Safe
Computing, and Safe Business Practices.
To stay safe from identity theft, always follow safe banking
and financial practices:
1) Keep account numbers and PIN numbers safe. Cover
your account and PIN numbers when using debit at the store and
refuse to give your PIN number to anyone. Avoid writing down
your PIN and account numbers - you never know when this
information could fall into the wrong hands.
2) Only do business with businesses you trust.
3)If you get applications for credit cards in the mail that
are “pre-approved” rip up the applications and enclosed letters
before discarding them. No, this is not paranoid.
Identity thieves sometimes go through garbage in order to find
these forms so that they can fill them out and steal your
4) If you use a computer, install good firewall and
antivirus protection system and update it religiously.
Better yet, take a course in safe computing at your local
college or community center. You will learn many good
tips for keeping all your information safe while you are
5) Never buy anything online from a company you do not trust
of from a company that does not have encryption technology and
6) Even with all computer precautions, avoid providing
private information through email or your computer. Be
especially cautious if you get an email from your bank asking
you to verify your information by clicking on a link - this is
a popular scam that comes not from your bank but from criminals
posing as your bank. Ignore the email and phone your bank
about the message.
7) Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or mail
advertisements. Most are from legitimate companies but
there are companies who promise you a credit card over the
telephone only to charge your existing credit card without
sending you anything.
Similarly, letters will sometimes promise you specific items
or services. Once you send in your credit card
information (usually to a post office box) you hear no more
from the company. If you need or want to buy something
from a company, be sure to check the company’s standing with
the Better Business Bureau first.
Send a money order instead of a check (which had your
account number) or your credit card information. If you
do use a credit card, report any unusual charges or any
payments you made for a product that did not arrive to the
credit card company.
In some cases, they can stop payment or refund your money as
well as take steps to keep your credit card number safe.
8) Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. If
you get an offer for a ten million dollar check - for which you
need to put down $5000 as a “sign if good faith”...if you get
an offer for a free state-of-the art computer - if only you
provide your account information... take a deep breath and
consider before sending in your money and your
Offers that are too good to be true always are. Scam
artists often rely on your belief in others and your trust to
make money. They depend on the fact that you will be so
excited about a product or service that you will throw good
judgment out the window. Prove them wrong.
When faced with an offer that seems too good to be true, do
some research on the web, through the Better Business Bureau,
or ask the person making the offer some questions. Never take
someone up on an offer that you have been given unsolicited
unless the company and the offer both check out.
9) Read the fine print. Some services or companies
will have tiny print in their contract or agreement that allows
them to charge you extra hidden fees or that allows them to
retract certain offers. If you get an offer through email
or the mail, make it a habit to read the fine print.
10) Be alert for a sudden disruption in your mail
service. If you do not get mail for some time, contact
your post office and ask whether your address was recently
submitted for a “change of address” service. It sounds
strange, but it’s true.
One way that criminals steal identities is to change your
address at the local post office. They redirect your mail
to a post office box number and steal your mail looking for
personal information such as bank statements, pre-approved
credit card applications, and other pieces of mail they can use
to steal your identity.
They use this information to pose as you with lenders and
run up huge charges in your name. Simply keeping an eye out on
your mail can help you keep your credit score safe.