Identity TheftIdentity theft has risen exponentially in the 21st Century. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 17.6 million people were victims of identity theft in 2014. A criminal who obtains your personal information can access bank accounts, credit card accounts and apply for credit cards using your name. Many victims are unaware that a theft occurred. Clearing one’s name after identity theft can take years depending on the severity of the crime.

While it seems everyone is vulnerable to identity theft, one way to help prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands is to be careful with your most personal information. Does that medical office really need your Social Security or driver’s license numbers? In most cases, the answer is no. Before giving out any personal information to an unknown person over the phone, ask for a telephone number and tell them you will call them back—many legitimate businesses/institutions will not ask for such information over the telephone.

Think twice before providing your:

–Social Security number
–Mother’s maiden name
–Date of birth
–Current and past addresses
–Bank account numbers
–Credit card account numbers
–Personal identification numbers (PINs)

The less of your vital information in someone else’s possession, the better.