Did you know that identity theft victims spend an average of 600 hours, and spend nearly $2,000 out-of-pocket, just to recover from the crime? With well over 50 million victims in North America last year alone, the likelihood of having your identity compromised, if not stolen, is very high. Aside from making sure you have protection against identity theft, here are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening to you:
- Be wary of unsolicited e-mails, calls or mail that attempt to extract personal information.
- Only carry official documents needed for day-to-day use, keep the rest in a secure place.
- Check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements often and report irregularities to financial institutions and credit bureaus.
- Shield your PIN number when using an ATM or a PIN pad -- even from the clerk.
- Memorize all PINs and never write them directly on cards.
- Shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage.
If you move, you should also notify the post office and all financial and credit companies you do business with.