Easy Tips to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Did you know that identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States? Maybe you’ve seen the trailer for this funny movie starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy? What about the not-so-funny real-life version of a similar story that happened to a school teacher in Texas?

Funny movies aside, identity theft is no laughing matter, and we decided to help our readers prevent it by starting with the small stuff – stuff small enough to fit in your wallet. Check out the infographic below, clean out your wallet, and share it with everyone you care about who should be worried about identity theft.

Identity Theft Protection - Shoeboxed Infographic

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If you think most people are smart enough to know about identity theft prevention, think again! We surveyed a small sample of Shoeboxed users (who tend to be smarter, better-looking and more technologically and financially savvy than the average citizen), and we found that even our rock star users could do a few things in 2013 to keep their wallet thinner and their identity safer:

  • An alarming 10% responded that they keep their Social Security Card in their wallet! If an identity thief gets a hold of your SSN, it’s pretty much game over, so our goal for 2013 is to drop that number to zero.
  • On the other hand, the same respondents seemed significantly more aware of online security – only 1.6% kept a password cheat sheet in their wallet, and almost 50% reported using a different password for every website they visited.
  • In keeping with national trends, 10.05% reported that they have been a victim of identity theft, but when it comes to proactively monitoring their credit, the results were mixed. An encouraging 20% check their credit score every 3 months, and 32% check it at least every 12 months.
  • 40% of respondents only check their credit score when they are applying for new credit – at which point it may be too late.

The last statistic is particularly worrisome because savvy identity thieves have moved from “traditional” credit card fraud (for example, where they used fraudulently acquired credit and debit cards until they were caught or the card maxed out), to “new account” fraud. In this new format, identity thieves use stolen identities to create brand new accounts that the real person does not even know about. So while you may watch your monthly credit card statements like a hawk for any sign of suspicious activity, a savvy identity thief may be racking up thousands of dollars of debt on a card in your name that you don’t even know exists.

Robert Siciliano, renowned author, personal security and identity theft expert, confirmed for this article that “[w]hile criminal hackers have received all the attention regarding identity theft, it is still the paper records in our lives that cause the most significant identity theft issues. Eliminating the paper and digitizing along with using antivirus, antispyware and a firewall is the most secure position.”

Shoeboxed helps small businesses and individuals all over the world keep track of their receipts and other documents and stay organized. This year, we would also like to help you protect yourself from identity theft. You can do your part by sharing our infographic and raising awareness of the eight surprisingly dangerous items that people keep in their wallets.

Stay Organized (and safe!),

The Shoeboxed Team

Author: Emily Farrar

At Shoeboxed, Emily focuses on keeping our users happy and engaged. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Relations and an avid Tar Heels fan. She enjoys traveling, staying active and spending time with her six-year-old Maltese, Madam.