Identity theft is something most people are concerned about, and many others have been a victim of. In an age of using debit or credit cards every where, and online shopping it’s getting harder and harder to protect ourselves from having our identities stolen. Lifestyle plays a huge role in who may become a victim.
I happen to be one of many who has had their identity stolen. For me it happened twice. The first time my information was stolen was online, the second time it was stolen when I paid a military bill for my son who was preparing to be shipped overseas for combat.
The process of clearing your name can be a difficult one, as I learned the hard way. To prevent further charges to my bank accounts I had to close my accounts and open a new one in another bank. Timing everything so my deposits and withdrawals didn’t go to the wrong institution which would have been disastrous. Then I had to rebuild my life.
I wish I had realized how easy it is to protect your financial information from being stolen, but I know I don’t have to worry I will become a victim again. I realized soon after I embraced living simply that my private information was no longer being given out, which meant no one was privy to any of it any longer.
If you live a simple, non-materialistic lifestyle you aren’t putting your private information out there for everyone to see on a regular basis.
Here are a few tips I learned along the way.
- Use cash. When you shop avoid using your debit card. It will save the businesses money and prevent your bank information from getting out there.
- Cut up credit cards. When you live simply, you will find that living without credit cards is more conducive to your lifestyle. If you aren’t buying more than you need, you will more than likely be able to afford to use money you already have and not have to put it on a card, waiting to pay the bill later. If you do hold on to a credit card leave it at home in a safe place.
- Use gift cards when shopping online. Many local stores including the drug store, grocery store, dollar stores, and yes Walmart offer gift cards. Our local grocery store offers discounts on gasoline when you buy your gift cards from them. This past Christmas, being hard for me to get around, I did it most of my shopping online, no not the greenest idea I’ve come up with but necessary at the time). I used gift cards, and gave my son the discount to pay for his gas to get to work as part of his Christmas present.
- Be picky who you give your business to online. If a company you want to do business with online doesn’t take a gift card, check how trustworthy the company is. For example, I do business with Amazon and haven’t had a problem. I avoid doing business with paypal because That’s where my information was stolen the first time.
- Do not have your social security number printed on your checks. I started to see this trend almost ten years ago, along with drivers license numbers and phone numbers printed on the checks, both pieces of information were directly under their name and address. Nothing like giving a dishonest person everything they need to rob you blind.
- Leave your social security card at home. There was a time we were told to carry our social security cards everywhere with us. This is no longer the case. Even opening a bank account, the bank will take your word that you have written down your correct social security number, you won’t be asked to show proof.
- Switch to online billing and statements Having your bills and statements mailed to your home is an easy way for your information to be intercepted. Many mailboxes are broken into each year, and even the possibility that your mail may inadvertently be delivered to the wrong house is something you need to consider.
The main point I have learned is that the simpler I made my life, the less I give in to buying things that aren’t necessities and the less often my private information will be available to the public.
In the age of plastic, there is no one stopping you from using cash. It may be a little less convenient if your paycheck is directly deposited into your financial institution to make a withdrawal in cash, but it can save plenty of time and stress you will have to repairing your life after having your identity stolen.