With you being on the go constantly as travel nurses, now more than ever you need to be more aware of the threat of identity theft which is the fastest growing crime in the nation. In your career you’re constantly moving around, doing a lot with online activities and doing much of your business with strangers. Everyone says “it will never happen to me” but according to creditreport.com “almost 10 million U.S. consumers said they were victims of identity theft and every 79 seconds a thief steals someone’s identity.” With numbers like those it is safe to say we all need to be more aware of how to keep ourselves safe from being taken advantage of. Listed below are; where/how your identity is most likely to be stolen, how to keep yourself safe, and what to do if your identity is stolen.
Where/How your identity is most likely to be stolen:
- Trash: Throwing documents into your trash without shredding them, it is the easiest way for a thief to steal your information.
- If something is ever stolen out of your mail box it is a Federal crime which means you can easily get the Federal Government on your side, so make sure to contact your local postmaster.
- Wallet/Purse: By taking your wallet/purse it is very easy for someone to steal your identity, because they have your credit cards, I.D. and other valuables you may keep in your wallet.
- Workers: People working in your apartment or home when you’re not there could come across things they shouldn’t and get your information if you haven’t put it away in a secure location.
- Websites: Always be careful when you’re typing your credit card information and other personal information into a website because they may not be secure and hackers could get your information. Make sure the URL starts with “https” or has a security seal from trusted sites to show you they are a secure site to be uploading your information to, such as; VeriSign and ControlScan.
- You: Don’t be careless and give out your social security number or credit card numbers over the phone where people can overhear you. It is best to do all work involving your credit card information on a land line in private instead of a cell phone in a public place for security purposes.
Keeping yourself safe:
- Check your bank and credit card statements on a regular basis to make sure all activity is yours.
- Don’t do the pre-paid options rather pay as you go so companies don’t have your card information on hand.
- Make sure you have updated virus and spyware protection installed on your computers.
- Don’t keep your social security card in your purse/wallet or lying around. You actually should never have your social security number anywhere but in your head.
- Always remember to report/cancel stolen or lost debit and/or credit cards right away.
- Keep a list of all your credit card numbers and information needed in a safe place, possibly your glove box or your home, so you have easy access to it if for some reason your cards were to go missing so you can to cancel them immediately.
- Buy a shredder and shred any credit card offers or other offers with your account or personal information.
- You don’t have to sign the back of your credit cards. Just write “See I.D.” and that way if your cards are ever taken the person won’t be able to use them without I.D. Just make sure you always have your I.D. with you if you plan on using your credit/debit cards.
- Rent a P.O. Box or buy a locked mail box to keep your mail safe from being easily taken.
- Change your passwords every three weeks and don’t ever use information that is easy to figure out such as pet’s names, birthdays, birthplace or mother’s maiden name. Think creatively.
- Use LifeLock
- It is a company that specializes in helping you keep safe from identity theft.
What to do if your identity is stolen: Make sure you don’t procrastinate. Act immediately.
- Call the fraud department of the 3 national credit bureaus:
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
- Contact your bank and credit card issuers
- Have them notified and possibly put a hold on your credit cards and accounts.
- File a police report
- File a complaint with the FTC
Now that you have all this information hopefully you will be able to follow the steps to help keep yourself safe from identity theft. Another helpful hint, once a year verify your credit records by calling 1.877.322.8228 or go to the website www.annualcreditreport.com and make sure your information is protected. It’s more important than most people think so always be aware of what information you are giving out and be aware of things that go missing.