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How to Prevent Personal and Business Identity Theft

Identity theft has to be one of the more frightening terms of our new electronic world.  Anyone who has fallen victim to it knows just how devastating a problem it is, and anyone that hasn’t should really start taking some precautions.    Here are some crucial tips to prevent identity theft that you can start using today. 

Keep It All Private

It’s time to adopt a motto that you shouldn’t share any personal information unless it is necessary.  This includes your address and postal code, where you work, birth date and full name, financial information, passwords or anything else someone could use to pretend they were you. Start making a habit of asking why someone needs your information and don’t give it unless it’s absolutely necessary.  And be careful when you’re out and shopping with credit cards or debit cards that have a PIN someone could steal. 

Read the Fine Print

Sometimes, you’ve already been a victim of identity theft and didn’t even know it.  This is where reading the details of financial statements as soon as you get them becomes important.  It’s common for people just to toss the statements aside until later, but if there are several unauthorized transactions on there, you’re only prolonging the problem.  Read them right away and report discrepancies immediately.  Be sure that these sensitive documents are disposed of by a reputable document storage company and not thrown in your trash.

You Online Life

Online is where real problems can happen.  Chatting, sharing, shopping and banking are perfect opportunities for identity thieves to get your information.  Computer hackers are smart and they are always equipped with the latest technology to steal your information.  Guard your computer and your online life with complicated passwords that include upper and lower case letters and numbers.  Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a quality fire wall and keep them updated.  Never reply to spam emails and only shop or bank with merchants you trust completely and have your safety in mind.  When you sell or dispose of a computer, make sure you destroy all the personal information on the hard drive. 

Identification Documents

The handful of identification documents that you probably carry around with you on a regular basis are perfect for borrowing your identity.  This includes your driver’s license, bank card, credit cards, health card, passport, birth certificate and social insurance card.  Obviously, not all of these are required in your day-to-day life, so at the very least keep your birth certificate, SIN card and passport locked up in a secure place.  A fireproof lock box works well, as does a bank safety deposit box. 

Protecting Business Data and Information

For a business, protecting customer or client data is critical.  Without document protection, not only will losing this information make for a poor relationship, there will also be  legal ramifications.  If you operate a business, only collect essential information from customers, always get consent and take security and storage very seriously.  That means hiring an expert with a proven track record to take care of it for you.  Taking extra precautions may seem a little “over the top” but it will be worth it in the end.