Tips for preventing identity theft

Organizing your documents is an important step to stay on top of where your important papers are, but with the digital world we’re also living in, there’s still more we can do.   The following list is a good starting point to change your daily habits to protect your identity, but don’t stop with this list.  Think about your lifestyle and what other steps you may need to take.

Here are 6 ways to prevent someone from stealing your personal information or identity:

    1. 1. Shred sensitive papers that you don’t need for taxes, including:
      – Finance-related statements
      – Pre-approved credit card statements
      – Paid bills
      – Any paperwork or documents with social security numbers, credit card numbers, date of birth or other sensitive and personal information.  Please note that this is a general list and not conclusive.
    2. 2. Be careful with what you share online.  For example, if you’re on Facebook, you’re not obligated to share your date of birth, home city, city of birth, state, province, school, college, etc!  Take a moment to go through your privacy settings and uncheck boxes under the Privacy settings that are not necessary.  It’s best to set it to Friends only and allow only Friends of Friends to contact or search for you.  Also, only accept friends from people you know. Just because the person is connected to a friend doesn’t mean that they’re legitimate.  One step further is to not allow your name to appear in search engines outside of Facebook.  This helps to keep your profile more private.    This option is also under the privacy settings (at the time of this post).

3. Always use Virus Protection software on your computer, otherwise you will be prone to hacks and viruses.  Once installed, set it on autopilot so that it scans for viruses at least weekly.   This is very important and is a small price to pay to avoid someone hacking into your computer and stealing your information, or crashing your hard drive.

4. Never give away personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.   To be sure, before returning a call, search online for “common phone scams” and then add the culprits to the Do Not Call List.

5. Be careful clicking on email links and attachments from “friends“.  If you receive an email from a friend with just a link, and maybe a comment like, “Check this out”, delete it.  Most friends are going to give you a bit more info before adding a link.  Also, NEVER open attachments from people you don’t know.  These are almost always viruses.

6. Check your credit report at least once a year at one of the 3 credit reporting companies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax (US).  You can get 1 free copy each year via

Check my website on the Stop Junk Mail and Spam Mail page for a list of organizations to stop pre-screened credit card offers and more.

You may also like:

Local shredding events in Maryland
5 easy organizing tips for dealing with the mail
Organizing your important documents

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About Jacquie

Jacquie Ross is a professional organizer, a Certified Life and Family Coach and award winning owner of CastAway the Clutter! A busy person's expert, Jacquie works with professionals, seniors, empty nesters and families to develop strategies to reach their goals, identify any road blocks, and find more meaning in their lives. Learn more about Jacquie’s life coaching and parent/youth/family coaching here at the CastAway the Clutter Blog, and for organizing services, visit CastAway the Clutter! Jacquie can also be found on Facebook
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