A couple years ago I taught a student whose father's life had been wrecked by identity theft. It was a story I'll never forget. Here a few things we can do to protect ourselves from identity theft:
1) Remove your social security number (SSN) from your checks if it is on there. Use your driver licence number instead if you need an identifying number. I did this immediately after hearing the student's story!
2) Never send your complete SSN or credit card number over email. If you are shopping online, look for the padlock symbol indicating you are on a secure site, and log off as soon as you have completed your purchase.
Create an account at PayPal.com and use it to pay when online. Else, MasterCard Securecode and Verified by Visa offer special credit card services for secure shopping online. These require the user to input a password before they can use the card online. I chose one of these options for my online purchases.
3) Buy a paper shredder and shred any financial statements or records before throwing them in the trash. This is the one I've yet to do, so I'm putting this on my to-do list today!
4) Once a year get a free credit report. See www.annualcreditreport.com. Make sure you recognize all the accounts and balances listed there.
In 2006, The Federal Trade Commission received nearly 250,000 complaints of credit-damaging identity theft. (More cases will go unrealized or unreported for years.) In this down turned economy, people grow desperate. So let's take a few simple but wise steps to protect our identity.
The Bible says a good name is worth more than silver and gold!