Protecting your identity isn’t so much about luck as it is diligence.

Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate consumers or businesses that has never had to deal with identity theft, but don’t think for a minute that it’s because of luck.  Identity protection isn’t something you want to gamble with, and the reasons go far beyond the odds being in your favor.  Identity protection happens because of diligence, not serendipity.

There are several common ways that thieves can get at your information.  The more aware you are, the more you are able to prevent it from happening to you.

For consumers, there’s driver’s license identity theft, passport identity theft, and social security identity theft.  Businesses need to be aware of business identity theft, corporate espionage, and financial theft.

If you think you’re safe simply because you or your business hasn’t been compromised, think again. According to a study from Javelin Strategy & Research, identity theft statistics show that the number of victims increased 16% to reach 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016 – the highest number since Javelin began tracking fraud in 2003.

How can you protect yourself from becoming a statistic?

Consumers should leave extra credit cards, Medicare cards, social security cards, and any financial statements at home in a secure place, unless you’re going somewhere that requires them.  You should regularly check your credit score and activity online, by phone, or in-person through your financial institution.  If a business ever asks you for your social security number, ask why they need it and how they will protect it.

Businesses should secure paper documents in locked cabinets and electronic records in password protected files.  It’s also good to establish business data security policies and limit employee access to sensitive business and client information and assets.  If you must provide sensitive business information over a website or via email, ensure the transmission is secure.

Businesses should also regularly shred outdated records, whereas residential customers should shred old bank records, junk mail, and credit card offers.

Don’t forget about document and media destruction.  Your information also exists on items such as hard drives, SIM cards, thumb drives, and even old mobile devices.  The easiest way to dispose of these is to have them shredded and destroyed properly so that any lingering data is irrecoverable.

Routine shredding is a powerful tool against identity theft, and that is no stroke of luck.  It’s common sense.

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