Once upon a time, I was young and dumb when it came to my credit. For each shiny credit application that came in the mail, for each approval I was given on credit lines, I rejoiced. That is, until I received the bill for each shiny little extension of pre-approved money. Since then, I got a little older and a little wiser when it came to digging out of debt and researching how to protect myself against identity theft so that I can (hopefully) avoid credit hiccups from here on out.
1. I Stopped Carrying My Social Security Card
I really never thought about it much. It was as much of a staple in my wallet as was my assorted consortium of plastic. That is, until I realized that any loss of my wallet could result in someone having the one number I needed to apply for credit. Now? My social security card remains in a safety deposit box, under the watchful eye of my bank.
2. I Never Talk Money in Public
Being in real estate, I take financial matters quite seriously; understanding that most of these should be reserved for private discussions. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from overhearing someone else give out a credit card number over the phone or discuss sensitive financial data while walking nonchalantly down the street. Since I never know who might be listening, I make sure all of my financial conversations stay in my house or in my car – when no one else can listen in.
3. I Don’t Click
There are a multitude of phishing scams out there, designed by clever thieves who will pose as your bank or some other financial institution in the hopes of tricking you out of a password, username or some other form of personal information. When receiving an email from a supposed lender, bank or other financial institution, I never click the link enclosed asking me to enter my password or user information. I came to realize that all financial institutions have an internal communication platform, and that everything else is just bogus.
While all of this is (really) common sense, I am still baffled by the amount of questions I receive from friends and family on these matters – and the amount of times I have seen or heard someone check their bank balances or pay bills on an unsecured wireless network. If you are like me and you are serious about keeping your financial matters private and safe from misuse, I happen to think that a little common sense can go a very long way.
More from this Contributor:
A Real Estate Survival Guide to Working With Fledgling Investors
Million Dollar Listing: Are Open Houses Overrated?
Five Types of Real Estate Agents We Have All Come to Hate