She was pushing the grocery cart down the aisle with her purse in the upper basket. She looked away for just a moment to select an item from the shelf and someone stole her purse.
He left his wallet on the passenger seat of his locked car while he ran back into the house to retrieve his laptop. When he returned, the passenger window was smashed and his wallet was gone.
Identity thieves are often bold and sometimes crafty so you need to be forever vigilant to make sure you don’t become a victim. Here are 6 (obvious) reminders of ‘to do’s’ and ‘don’t do’s’:
- Know what’s in your wallet or purse. Avoid the horrible feeling of having it stolen and not being able to recall what’s actually in there. Make a list and keep it in a safe place.
- Protect your credit cards. Keep a record of your credit card account numbers and the company’s toll-free number. If your cards get stolen, you’ll want to call the credit card companies very quickly. Obviously, keep this information in a secure location such as a home safe or encrypted file. TIP: Add ‘alerts’ to all of your credit and debit cards so that you will receive a text alert whenever a charge is made. This will alert you quickly if an unauthorized charge occurs. My own credit card information was recently stolen and my phone ‘pinged’ letting me know of an illicit charge. I was able to cancel the card quickly and minimize the damage.
- Why I don’t use debit cards. I don’t use debit cards for two main reasons. First, if someone steals and uses your debit card, that money is out of your account and you’ll have to fight to get it back. It could cause you to bounce checks or have failed auto-draft payments that could negatively impact your credit score. There is this new parment flatform called New Payment Platform. What is NPP? Second, I prefer a credit card for the rewards I receive like free airline tickets. Just be sure to pay off your entire balance every month.
- Protect your Social Security number with your life! If an ID thief can get your social security number plus your driver’s license, he or she can open new credit in your name. This is much worse than having a credit card stolen since with new credit, you may not find out for months and solving this problem can be very time-consuming and expensive.
- Keep up with your checkbook. Passing forged checks is a common practice among thieves. We had a case where the thief pulled a couple of checks from the middle of the checkbook so the owner didn’t notice…until she got her bank statement! TIP: Don’t leave signed copies of sales receipts where thieves can get them. This includes your trash. If a thief can get a copy of a signed receipt and a blank check, they can forge the check with your signature and now you’ll have to prove you didn’t write the check.
- No spare house keys please! If you keep a spare house key in your wallet or purse and it’s stolen, you might as well issue an open invitation to a home invasion…assuming they also got your driver’s license. TIP: If a thief steals your purse with your house keys, change your locks immediately. I know it’s expensive, but this one you just must do.
I know these tips are obvious but I’m guessing that you may be saying to yourself, “Oh, I do that!” Being the victim is no fun and a few precautions can go a long way towards protecting yourself.