Every year, 15 million Americans have their identities stolen, crimes which account for upwards to $50 billion in financial losses. And having your identity used fraudulently isn’t just a temporary headache — 70% of identity theft victims have trouble getting rid of, or never get rid of, negative information from their records. This means that they could be passed over for jobs, for home loans, and other opportunities.
Indeed, it is no wonder that the crime is so common. When you consider that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, and that many of those papers contain sensitive information, identity theft is sometimes as easy going through the trash. To prevent this from occurring in your future, check out these three techniques for avoiding having your identity stolen online and in real life:
Remember all those pieces of paper the office worker used every year? Instead of going in the garbage, most of those should have been shredded, preferably by a professional paper shredding company. On-site paper shredding services come to corporate offices or other professional premises once, twice, or however many times is necessary a year in order for those dangerous documents to get destroyed.
If your office has paper shredding services, consider storing sensitive documents like pay stubs at the office.
Strengthen Your Digital Security
This might refer to changing your passwords more frequently, using harder to guess PINs, or even contacting a computer help desk to find out how to make your computer more difficult to hack into (Hint: search for “two-factor authentication”). Make sure to be especially wary of e-mail prompts, and of giving your information out online, even if you are shopping.
Stay Alert When Out
You could just as easily suffer from identity theft online as you could in real life — just from someone stealing your identification card from your wallet. Always look over your shoulder when using ATMs and keep your wallet by your side when in crowded places.
You can protect yourself, and others, from identity theft. Stay vigilant. Try to spread your knowledge so that other people around you don’t fall prey to digital or real life thieves who could ruin their credit, credibility, and career.