The holiday spending season is nearly upon us and understanding the dangers of identity theft is crucial. Though many of the methods thieves use to steal identities are out of our control, there are many measures you can take to protect yourself from the threats identity thieves pose.

Protect Your Credit Card Number From Prying Eyes

When you buy stuff using your debit or credit card, make sure that only the last 4 digits of the card are shown on the receipt. Usually, the first 12 digits are replaced by Xs in order to be unknown. According to the law, you can mark out the first 12 digits on copy of the merchant’s with a pen.

It is especially important that you check your credit card receipt at restaurants. Take the restaurant’s copy if all 16 digits are shown. It’s best to cross out the first 12 digits and personally hand the receipt to the wait staff. Otherwise, you risk an identity thief walking away with your name, account number, and quite possibly your card’s expiration date.

Only Use Your Social Security Number When Absolutely Necessary.

Though it is necessary to use your social security number when applying for credit or opening a bank account, it isn’t always necessary that you use it in other circumstances. Even though nowadays it’s not common, there are still some stores that want you to use your SSN as an ID number within their system. Though this practice is discouraged by law, you will still run across it from time to time. Whne you face these situations, using your judgment is the best option. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, there is usually an alternative available if you ask.

Your Trash is Treasure to an Identity Thief

If you want to protect your identity, a good paper shredder may be your most important investment. To obtain your credit in your name, identity thieves wouldn’t mind going through your trash. Shred anything and everything that has personal information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers, etc. You can do this at home. But if you prefer, you can also do this at work.

The holiday season is a time for us to enjoy shopping for our friends and family. With every swipe of our credit cards, however, it is imperative that we protect our financial futures from the dangerous threats identity thieves pose.

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