The Federal Trade Commission says that 9 million Americans are the victim of identity theft each year. Victims of identity theft can suffer poor credit, have trouble being qualified for home loans and other credit, and take a considerable financial hit, which may not be repaid by lending companies or insurance.
It is important to protect yourself against identity theft so you keep your financial health intact. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft:
Practice Online Safety
Hackers, malware, and spyware are all very real threats in our Internet-dependent society. We shop online, we bank online, and we invest online. It is important to practice online safety to protect personal details. Only share personal details like your account numbers or financial information on a secure connection and a site you trust.
Secure connections are identified by the https:// at the beginning of a URL. Trusted sites include known websites of trusted financial institutions and businesses, such as banks, credit card companies, and top stores.
Never share a password through e-mail or through a link included in your e-mail. Keep your passwords in a safe place, such as an encrypted file on your desktop.
Don’t Overshare Online
Even if you are careful about your financial details, it is still possible for someone to steal your identity if you share too much personal information online.
For example, sharing birthdays, favorites and details about your hometown or your family could provide hackers with enough information to figure out the answer to your secret question to gain access to your password. Be cautious in what you share, and limit your posts to trusted family and friends.
Keep Important Items at Home
You don’t need to carry around your social security card unless you are going to apply for a passport, sign HR paperwork, or provide some other official identification. Yet if you carry your social security card, you leave yourself vulnerable if your purse or wallet is stolen.
Leave it at home, as well as any credit cards that you aren’t using, your passport, and any other personal items that aren’t necessary for your outing. Leave your checkbook at home unless you know you are going to be shopping and want to write a check.
Shred Old Personal Documents
Once you are done with old documents that have personal details on them, shred them. Throwing them in the trash could put your personal information in the hands of thieves. Shred old bills, bank statements, retirement statements, prescription labels, and anything else that might have your SSN on it, your personal details such as your full name and birth date, or your account numbers.
Monitor Financial Statements
The best way to know if you have been the victim of identity theft is to monitor your bank statements and your credit. If thieves start using your accounts, you will quickly notice unusual charges or new accounts taken out in your name. By monitoring your financial accounts, you can be sure that you catch these charges early so that you can have them reversed and stop the thief before any devastating damage is caused.
Identity theft is a real problem. It’s easy to think that it won’t happen to you, but it can. Make sure you protect yourself by keeping your data and your financial accounts safe. You don’t want a thief to rob you and your family of your future.
Don’t Let Identity Theft Follow You Into Your New Home
First-time home buyers make up almost 40 percent of the people currently combing the market for their dream home, according to a survey conducted by Doorsteps.com, an online tool for prospective buyers. Most of you are looking for a moderately priced home to get you out of an apartment or other rental situation.
You may be searching for more space and privacy, and chances are good you are partly motivated by the pride of ownership. Of course, your first home needs to be a sound investment that will be easy to resell, if you choose to do so down the road.
The greatest obstacle facing first-time homebuyers is financing—connecting with a great mortgage lender is vital for the first-time homebuyer, and nothing is more crucial to landing a mortgage than having good credit.
While good credit can land a buyer a mortgage and eventually a new home, some buyers aren’t aware of a potential pitfall involved in buying a first home: fraud and other forms of identity theft. Take the necessary precautions to help protect your identity while purchasing a home.
You are probably excited about your new home purchase and want to share all the details with the world, but think again. The identity protection service LifeLock advises you to keep your chatter on social media about moving to a minimum because this is a dead giveaway to potential identity thieves. Don’t share your address or moving date online, either.
While you’re moving, carry only minimal cash and just the credit cards you will be needing and using. Store all of your other cards and important documents in a safe place only you can access. That way if there is theft or loss during your move, your important information will remain safe.
Watch your mail. Know the dates your bills regularly arrive and make sure they do. If a bill goes missing, you’ll be able to call immediately and find out right away if your mail has been intercepted.
Done With It? Shred It
Make sure to shred any and all papers that contain information like your address or other personal data before throwing them in the trash or recycle bin. Even junk mail has your address on it, so you should consider shredding that, too.
Smart PIN number selection
If you’ve changed banks and need a new PIN number, pick one that is unrelated to any of the other passwords, PINs, or personal information. Don’t use your birthday, social security number, or other obvious or sensitive choices. It will be harder for hackers to get access to your personal information and commit identity theft if you use cryptic pins and passwords.
What Is Identity Guard ID Theft Protection?
The reality of life is that identity thieves are becoming more and more creative when it comes to stealing your life. You can’t open a newspaper, read a magazine, or turn on the TV and not read at some point how people have had their lives literally stolen away from them by many unscrupulous identity thieves. As this problem continues to grow it is becoming increasingly necessary for many people to seek out some sort of ID theft protection.
A National Problem
As the information age continues to march on, the field of information crime seems to expand with it. It has become such a major financial problem across the country that some have considered it to be a financial epidemic. Billions of dollars are lost every year as a result of identities being stolen.
You may be wondering then if it is worth it to spend the few extra dollars a month for ID protection. Here are some of the services they offer based on the fees that you may have to pay.
By law, everyone is entitled to a free credit report every year. You can also get a free copy if you’ve been denied credit or if you have been found to be a victim of identity theft.
These reports come from the three top credit reporting agencies and can be very helpful in letting you determine if you have been targeted. They can also offer some level of free monitoring but it may be very limited.
For a Nominal Fee
If the free market options do not offer you adequate protection then your next group of services includes a number of low fee options. For $5 – $20 a month, you can expect to get monitoring services that provide red flag alerts whenever changes occur in your report. These may come in the form of an email or a phone call to tell you about the suspicious activity.
Once you receive this type of notice, it will be up to you to determine if the threat is real or not and take the necessary steps to correct it. They may also include online tools to help you improve your present credit rating. Some of these services include special security software along with public records searches as well.
For just a little bit more money each month, you can take advantage of ID theft services that also include fraud alerts. By placing a temporary fraud alert on your account it then requires lenders to verify your identity and authorization before issuing any new credit in your name.
The verification process could include answering questions that only you should know, providing proper identification, or responding to the request by mail.
At the top of the line, you’ll find additional services that include recovery assistance for those who have already fallen victim to some sort of Identity Guard ID theft. These could include assistance in reporting lost or stolen credit cards, replacement of personal identification, or even insurance to cover the losses that may be incurred as a result of being an identity theft victim.
Promo Codes to Save Big on Lifelock ID Protection
Finding the right ID theft protection for your particular needs will require that you evaluate the many different offers and compare them to your personal circumstances.