4 Identity Theft Protection Tips You Must Know
All an identity thief needs to turn your life upside down is your personal information; your drivers license and social security, passwords, credit card account numbers and expirations dates. Identity theft is becoming more and more widespread because it has become easier for identity thieves to steal personal information. By stealing your mail, garbage and wallet they can clear out your bank accounts, charge up your credit cards, open new credit cards and even have medical procedures done, in your name.
Identity Theft Protection Starts With You
#1 – Check Your Credit Report
Identity thieves are clever, they know how to stay below the radar, therefore, you may not even know that you have been a victim of identity theft until your checks bounce or your credit card charge is denied due to excessive account activity. One way to stay on top of fraudulent activity is to check your credit report at least on an annual basis. You can obtain your credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies at no charge once a year; be sure to take advantage of that. Those agencies are Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
#2 – Your Purchase Receipts
Although it may seem tedious, save your purchase receipts. Some part of your credit or debit card information is usually listed on a receipt; just enough for a thief to do some damage. You are inviting identity theft if you leave receipts behind or throw them away. Help yourself watch for fraudulent activity on your accounts by saving receipts and checking them against your statements.
#3 – Buy A Shredder
A shredder is another way to safeguard against identity theft. Shred any financial document that has your name, address and or account number on it; that includes credit card offers you receive in the mail, credit or debit card receipts, cancelled checks and bank and credit card statements.
#4 – Your Computer Safety
- Hackers are deceptive so be aware.
- Install a firewall and strong virus protection software; be sure to keep it updated and current.
- Since laptops are easier to steal avoid storing personal and financial information on your laptop.
- Avoid obvious passwords such as your dogs name, your birthday or your nickname.
- Steer clear of attached files or hyperlinks within email messages; especially if the email is from someone you do not know.
Identity theft protection begins with you. Be aware, proactive and trust but verify. Identity thieves are clever and deceptive, if you understand that you can protect yourself from the damage they can cause.