Have you noticed how, as time goes on, you do more and more on your computer? I was thinking about this today and realized how much of my personal information is floating around in cyber-space. Then, of course, my thoughts went to who has access to that information and what they could do with it. I have had experience with someone getting hold of my credit card number and then trying to buy themselves a nice, new television. Fortunately my credit card company caught it, but what if they hadn’t? Identity theft is a real problem that can cost you a bunch of money. If you own printers you just might be able to save yourself from the headache called identity theft!
What Can You Do?
It is vital that you protect your personal information whenever you can. Information like your address, date of birth and phone number can give an identity thief a place to start invading your personal and professional identity. This can be a problem because of the number of times we are asked to give exactly that info. It has become so commonplace that many of us don’t think twice before completing every form. It is time to start thinking.
If you are in the doctor’s office or the phone company and they ask for your date of birth or your social security number, ask why. Professional offices and businesses need to protect themselves, also, and most likely are just trying to be certain of your identity. Instead of answering these questions out loud, hand them your driver’s license. Most of the necessary information will be printed on that document. Beware of giving a verbal response. People capable of involvement in identity theft can be anywhere.
It is good practice to protect the documents, themselves, from theft. Do not carry items such as your birth certificate or Social Security card with you. If your wallet or purse are stolen, these very important documents are in the hands of a criminal. Leave them at home, preferably locked in a safe or lock box, where they are out of reach of prospective thieves.
What If I Am Online?
Filling out personal information online is downright scary. You have to be extremely vigilant in being aware of who will see your forms once you have submitted them. Not every website is secure enough for me to be comfortable hitting the send button. Think outside the box, though, and there is a simple alternative.
Your printer can be your best safety friend when it comes to protecting you from identity theft. It sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? How in the world can printers protect your identity? The answer is, very simply. Think of all those online forms that you have filled out. For me it is a bit frightening when I think about how many times I have hit that send button. If you were to print out those forms and send them in the mail you would effectively eliminate one source of potential identity theft. That one simple step will prevent anyone with access to your computer, or the computer on the receiving end, from latching onto your personal information.
Identity theft is a serious problem in society. It is important to do what you can to protect yourself. If something as easy as printing and mailing forms can protect you, especially when you can’t verify the security of a website, do it. It is much easier to avoid the problem than it is to deal with the headache of identity theft after it happens.