Identity theft is a major issue in today’s financial world. With the rate at which information travels from one person to another, it is no surprise that occasionally, this information gets intercepted by a third party who is determined to do harm to your financial and personal credit history. Basically, identity theft can be a catastrophe to your financial life, credit score or credit report, and can cost an enormous amount of money to correct. So, it is definitely worth knowing what basics steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft.
How To Protect Your Identity: The Basics of ID Theft Protection
1. Don’t put your sensitive information on your checks.
The first step you want to take is to avoid putting your social security number on checks. Because your personal checks pass through so many hands before they reach your bank to clear, it is possible that if you place your social security number on the check, you could easily become a victim of identity theft. Many people have reported checks stolen in the mail. Plus, the checks pass through the hands of employees that may not have the best of intentions. With the information already included on the check along with your social security number (SSN), these people are given a free ride into your identity.
2. Shred sensitive information you don’t use.
Secondly, you want to shred all documents with your name, address, and any financial information. I shred everything that has my name on it that comes in the mail. It’s best to use a cross cutting shredder if possible, so someone can’t piece the information back together.
3. Make copies of your important information.
Thirdly, be sure to make copies of all the personal cards and information that you carry in your wallet. Believe me, this is a lifesaver if your wallet or purse is stolen. I’ve had a purse stolen and in the process, I lost all of my credit cards and my social security card. Thankfully, I had the photocopies of everything that was in my purse at home. I notified all the creditors and credit reporting agencies that night and was able to prevent an identity theft catastrophe.
4. Monitor your finances regularly.
Fourthly, you want to make sure that you always monitor all your credit card and financial statements for unusual activity and report anything that you see that is unusual on these statements to the creditors. This is how credit monitoring services can serve a purpose.
If you need to monitor your credit or want to prevent ID theft, you may want to check out our IDENTITY GUARD review or any one of these services:
Many scammers are now using a technique where they charge a large amount on the credit card, and then run a credit for the entire amount except for $20. If a scammer can make $20 off of each credit card, they can actually make an enormous amount of money. And you may never realize it unless you review your statements each month. This actually happened to me, and I noticed the charge, and reported it to American Express. Both charge and credit were investigated and removed.
5. Get copies of your credit reports regularly.
Lastly, you want to get copies of your credit reports at least once a year, if not twice. There are three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. You want to monitor all three of these reports. Always report any errors to the credit reporting agencies. All three of these have links on their web sites where you can dispute accounts as well as correct information such as your name and address. You are entitled to one free report from each agency every 12 months which you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com. For more information on Equifax, check out our Equifax credit report and score review.
In addition to this, you can opt out of receiving credit card offers and other such notices in the mail. This will prevent credit card and credit line offers from going to old addresses and falling into the hands of someone else. So do visit OptOutPrescreen.com to opt out today.
If you can take these preventive steps, you can ensure that you have covered the basics in protecting yourself and your family from becoming the victims of identity theft. This will, in turn, save you loads of money, time, and your financial integrity.
Contributing Writer: Selena