For many of us, this time of year represents a little extra in our bank accounts from tax returns. It is a perfect time of year for identity thieves to strike. If you want to make the bad guy's job easier, here are some bad habits to keep up.
Throw away junk mail without shredding it
When you get junk mail — credit card applications, solicitations for donations and life insurance offers — leave them intact and put them in the trash. By not shredding them, you give the perpetrators easy access to personal information. This allows them to get generalized information like age, health, income-ish and other things which can lead them to your identity. I once received some junk mail addressed to a previous owner. I felt a card in the envelope so I opened it to shred the information. In the solicitation for a particular credit card, they had included his bank account number, routing number, name and birthdate. I was shocked that a company could behave so irresponsibly.
Forget your receipts
Leave receipts in stores or at gas pumps. Toss them into public trash cans where they can easily be retrieved.
Carry it all on you
Carry your Social Security card with you. Place pin numbers on sticky notes to your card or carry a little black book containing all your passwords, passcodes and pin numbers with you at all times in case you forget what they are. If your wallet is stolen, this makes it so much easier for the bad guy to clean out your accounts and get credit cards in your name.
Save your passwords and cookies
Save all your passwords and cookies on your laptop. Don't bother routinely changing your password because then it's just one more thing you have to remember and goodness knows you have enough. If your computer is stolen, all that luscious information is in there and the thief has easy access to it.
Use bad ATM etiquette
When making a withdrawal, do it in a crowd of people so you are less likely to be held up. Make large gestures when putting in your pin number so anyone watching won't have to guess. Leave before the final screen comes up.
Ignore your bank accounts
Don't bother balancing your checkbook as often. Don't monitor transactions. Don't set any limit to what can be withdrawn. This way you won't even be aware you've been hacked until it's too late.
Don't worry about duplicates cards
Don't keep duplicate cards in a safe where you can find the 800 number to call and cancel the card if yours comes up missing. Give the perp time to charge up some things.
Keep credit card information and bank account website logins saved on your work computer in case you need to make purchases during your lunch hour. After all, who's going to use your work computer? It's probably never going to be hacked.
Stick it in the mailbox
Post your outgoing mail at your house rather than driving it to a secure post office mailbox. Chances are greater of someone walking by and swiping it while you're away.
Feel comfortable and free to give out personal information on the phone and over the Internet to anyone who asks. They must be legitimate if they have your email and phone number.
Tell all on social media
Make sure to post your travel plans on all your social media so that identity thieves and burglars know you'll be away so that they can devise a way to make an unannounced visit to your home or collect your mail for you during your absence.
Don't use protection services
Don't subscribe to services like LifeLock or those offered through your credit card companies. These will make it almost impossible for your identity thief to adequately do his job.
By using one or more of these easy steps, you will increase your opportunities of supporting your local identity thief.