Protect Your Identity @ the Library
August 08, 2012
One of the things that has been in the news lately is identity theft, so I wanted to take a moment to let you know four things you can do to ensure that you’re not a victim of this malicious act.
1. Protect Your Social Security Card: Don’t carry your social security card with you. Memorize your number (and your kids’ numbers), and keep the card(s) in a secure place. If you need to physically show your social security card, return it to a secure location as soon as you’re done with it. If you have to make a copy of it, make sure you remove the card and the copies from the copying machine. If you leave your social security card at the Library and we happen to find it, we’ll hang onto it for a while in hope that you come back and look for it. The Social Security Administration could care less if you lose your card. Even if we return your lost card to them, they generally won’t go out of their way to get it back to you. They will reissue you a new one if you visit them, but in the meantime, you never know who has it and what they’re doing with it. If you carry it around in your wallet and your wallet gets stolen, your social security number can be used to apply for credit, jobs, open bank accounts, and used for all kinds of fraudulent activities.
2. Shred Your Stuff: If you don’t have access to a shredder, you can come to the Library and put papers in the secure CINTAS box. CINTAS comes twice a month and shreds documents right in our parking lot or takes them to their location where the documents are shredded. I tear the address and identifying information off every piece of mail before I recycle it. The identifying information gets shredded. You should keep financial records for 7 – 10 years. Once they are older than that, do not just put tax returns or bank statements in the trash or the recycle bin. Some identity thieves will go through trash to find out information they can use about you and your family. Shred, shred, shred.
3. Request Your Free Annual Credit Reports: There are three primary credit bureaus and according to Federal law, you are entitled to receive a copy of your credit report once a year for FREE. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to request this report. By doing this, you may be able to see whether someone has been tampering with your good name and your credit. This website is the only one recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can access this website from any computer that has Internet access. The Blue Ridge Branch has 27 Internet accessible computers and Wi-Fi service available for our customers.
4. Limit Your Information on Cell Phones: Everyone has one these days, but do you realize that cell phones are not secure connections? Not only can people overhear your conversation, but with equipment purchased from a local Radio Shack, someone can actually tap into your conversation without you knowing about it. Be careful what information you give out over a cell phone, especially when you’re in a public place like the Library.
Taking these simple precautions will limit your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. To discover some more ways you can protect yourself (and your children), visit the FTC website.
Blue Ridge Branch