Identity theft can happen when someone gets access to your personal information, like your name or social security number. If you are like me you just want to know what you can do to protect yourself. Simple as that. The key is to be conscious of HOW identity theft happens. Common ways include:
- Stolen wallet or credit cards-Your cards don’t have to ACTUALLY be stolen to do this. Think more borrowed. I just watched a movie where servers at restaurants were swiping card information while running your card to pay for the bill. The card was never actually stolen. Just borrowed.
- Documents or receipts in the trash– Yes, people will dig through your trash. It just takes one credit card bill or pay stub.
- Phone or email scams-People will call and pose as your bank or credit card company and ask for your SSN to identify yourself. Be careful. I worked for a major bank for years and we never made phone calls like that. Ask if you can call back to verify their identity.
- Hacking unsecured computers and wireless networks
The number of identity fraud victims jumped from 13.1 million in 2013 according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. Scary, isn’t it? How does a person even begin to protect themselves. Identity theft victims can suffer years with denied credit, erroneous collection activity, and even tax implications – not to mention the emotional damage from stress. Avoid being a victim…protect yourself with these 7 tips.
1. MIND YOUR PURSE AND WALLET
When out and about don’t carry every credit card, debit card and bank account number with you. Limit the number of personal information items you have on you at all times. Never have your social security card in a purse or a wallet. Keep a list of all account numbers and a contact number for the creditor locked in location that is readily available should you need it.
2. BEWARE OF WHAT YOU SHARE
Social media is where we share our lives…but, just think. You are going on a family vacation and share it all on Facebook. Your house is obviously empty. Thieves watch for this sort of thing. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know and be smart about what you share.
3. PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
The most basic personal information is often the only information that is actually needed to commit fraud. Your social security number and birthdate are often enough. Never use those numbers as part of a username or something that is commonly seen by others. This includes apps on your mobile device. Make sure you are downloading only reputable apps and be smart about what you share.
4. BEWARE OF “PHISHING”
E-mails that are sent from a legitimate site will never ask you for your personal information, so if you ever see one that is coming from a bank or a creditor, be very wary. Contact the institution who “sent the e-mail” right away for further instructions. If you’ve entered in your information, it’s possible that thieves already have it.
5. REVIEW CREDIT CARD AND BANKING STATEMENTS
Review all of your statements to verify that the charges were made were made by you and you alone. If you don’t recognize call the bank or financial institution right away to dispute the charge as there are time limits on disputes.
6. SHRED DOCUMENTS WITH SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Never toss in the garbage any paperwork with sensitive information on it. Thrown away statements and information make obtaining account numbers easy. Shredding unneeded documents is probably one of the easiest ways to protect your identity.
7. REGULARLY REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT AND SCORES
Each year you are entitled to a free credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus. These reports would be a good place to look for any sort of unusual activity, including new lines of credit and address listings. Be diligent with your finances…protect yourself and your family to get some peace of mind.
If you’ve already become a victim of identity theft, read “Identity Theft Help” by Ashley Hagelin.
Want a second set of eyes to decipher your credit report? Contact LSS at 888-577-2227 to schedule a Credit Report Review. Or if you want to set up a budget to conquer your debt, call us or visit www.ConquerYourDebt.org to get started online. It’s never too late to improve your finances – take action today!