I found a very interesting post of 12 tips on how to Avoid Identity Theft. I decided to see if I could translate this to life in Brazil!
1. Order your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies: I'm not sure if this is possible down here although I assume it is. Mr. Rant is constantly checking our credit card statements. That may be because of the risk of cloned credit cards. Maybe I should inform him of my R$2000 bill at the gas station...
2. Avoid carrying your checkbook with you unless it's absolutely necessary: I never carry checks here. Mr. Rant only has one or two checks on him at a time. I just assumed (making an ass our of U and ME) that it is common to not take the whole checkbook. So now I get anxious when I only have one, not that there is any more risk than there is at home. I'm more of a check tease anyway. I fill it out and give it to someone only for them to realize that I misspelled Cinquenta or put the date where Rio de Janeiro goes or something like that. Damn foreigners.
3. Guard your social security number, birth date, and your mother's maiden name with extra care: Um, I think by law every piece of paper in Brazil, down to a personal note, is required to have your CPF (Brazilian SS#), birth date, and both parent's full names.
4. Avoid putting paid bills and anything that contains personal information and your signature in your home mailbox. Instead, take them to the Post Office or hand them to your mail carrier: Brazil has got this one covered via online payments, paying at the bank, or paying at the creepy lottery counters. And if you ask me why I find the lottery counters creepy I wouldn't be able to tell you. They are just weird little places.
5. Purchase a good paper shredder: Being a cost efficient person I went ahead and gave birth to two paper shredders. Seriously though, Mr. Rant has never been super anal about shredding. He also hardly throws any papers away. We have tax forms from 1991 for a company that doesn't even exist anymore. Apparently you never know when the Brazilian government is going to want to see some sort of official document from your past. At least it's hard for identity thieves to get into your home and find something useful in piles of crap. Btw, I'm calling the show "Hoarders" and reporting Brazil!
6. Never trust an email that asks you to click on a link from a company that may have any information about you: Duh
7. Forget taking surveys via telephone: I once answered the phone here in Rio de Janeiro and there was someone wanting me to do a survey. I went with it and they proceeded to ask me all about what electronics I had in my home. *Warning* Of course I lied and down played but then they asked for my address, for the survey of course. I told them I wasn't comfortable giving my address. They then asked for just my zip code. I said no as well since I know that my zip code in Brazil will tell them which street I live on and more or less what part of it. Note to self: be careful of anything on the phone in Brazil, especially if you are a foreigner. But don't be scared and have fun with it. If someone calls saying your husband has been in a car accident asks you what kind of car you have be creative. "He crashed our Hot Pink Mini-Cooper!" When they say yes you can then laugh in their face and hang up.
Read the entire article on protecting yourself from Identity Theft in the States here.
All and all I think Brazil has a pretty safe system when it comes to protecting your identity. While I hate all the hoops, it is a good system. There is a reason why you have a chip in your bank card, are required to swipe it 300 times to take out R$5, and have to type in your password 3 or 4 times. Heaven forbid you try to take out a R$20, but it works. Official signatures, thousands of stamps on hundreds of official documents, and flimsy IDs all make the Brazilian world go around.