5 Simple Ways to Help Prevent Identity Theft
Recovering from identity theft can be a real nightmare: filing police reports, dealing with credit reporting agencies and explaining to your financial institution that it wasn’t you who conducted fraudulent transactions. Even if your bank does not hold you liable for the fraudulent activity, it can feel like a real violation. Here are 5 simple tips to be proactive about preventing identity theft. Hopefully these tips can save you time, money and the headache that comes with having your identity stolen.
Protect your social security number as much as possible. This is the most important piece of information that criminals need to get to your bank account or to apply for fraudulent loans. You should never carry your social security card with you in your wallet, doing so creates the opportunity for it to end up in the wrong hands. Leave your social security card at home, locked in a safe place and if possible, commit the number to memory.
Dispose of all your personal paper documents properly. This includes tax returns, bank statements and other personal information that should never just be thrown in the trash. It’s very easy for criminals to go through your trash cans and get your information. These documents should always be shredded.
Sign up for fraud detection services. There are quite a few companies now that will monitor your credit report and notify you if someone is trying to use your social security number or take out a loan in your name. For a small sum of money, these services can give you the peace of mind of knowing they are keeping a watchful eye on your credit on your behalf.
Do not give out personal information. Social engineering has become a very popular way of attacking consumers and getting personal information. It may sound silly, but thousands of people are hustled every day by thieves calling and pretending to be someone else. Even the simplest piece of information that you may not think is important; such as your address, may be the final piece they need to impersonate you. If you aren’t sure who you are talking to on the phone; don’t give out any information.
Consider freezing your credit. Many people don’t know that they can freeze their credit report with the three major credit reporting agencies. If you don’t plan to use your credit because you already own a home and the car you want, this can be a great option. The only downfall is that it sometimes takes 5-10 days to unfreeze your account if you decide you need access. Nonetheless, this is a great way to prevent criminals from fraudulently using your credit.
Remember to use these tips to help keep your personal information as secure as possible.
Visit our Financial Knowledge Blog
to learn more tips on setting up a solid financial future or join us for Financial Wellness Wednesdays.