- Don’t carry your social security card around. Leave it at home in a safe place, or better yet, locked away. Don’t give out your SSN unless you absolutely have to—and even then, ask why the organization needs it. Chances are, they may accept another form of ID – or will only need the last four digits.
- Tear it up. Buy a shredder and use it for anything printed with your name, address, and any other personal information such as a social security number, driver’s license number, or financial account number. For documents that you need to retain, if they include this type of information, store them in a secure place in your home. Don’t ever throw out unopened mail – take a quick look and make sure that it doesn’t include personal information – if it does, shred it and then recycle it. This is really important with pre-approved credit card applications, bank statements, or medical records. Make sure to cut up expired credit cards and put the pieces in different trash cans. Think we’re being paranoid? Think again. You never know who’ll find it—or use it.
- Be safe online. Change your passwords frequently and make them tough for others to figure out—for example, it’s not a good idea to use things others may readily know like your dog’s name or your birthday (your dog’s birthday is a safer bet). Install firewall and antivirus software on your laptop or computer, and keep it up to date. Don’t share, email or post your passwords or PINs (or your social security number, for that matter), even with close friends…but you know that already, right?
- Copy-cat. Make copies of your credit cards (front and back), passport, driver’s license and other important docs, and put them in a safe, preferably locked place. That way, if your wallet gets stolen or lost, you’ll be able to contact your credit card companies right away stop any potential damage quickly.
- Stay on top of your credit. Massachusetts residents are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit agencies (Experian, Transunion, Equifax). Take advantage of that right, and check for any inconsistencies or unusual transactions.
- Take advantage of electronic statements – If possible, sign up for electronic statements and check them regularly to make sure there’s nothing fishy going on. The information is available when and if you need it, and it keeps them out of the mail and the waste out of the garbage and recycling stream.
Did you know? Bunker Hill customers and their household family members have automatic identity theft assistance from Identity Theft 911®, a leading firm in identity management and fraud education. Visit our website for more info about this convenient service.
Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.