5 Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

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Identity thieves use a lot of different tricks to access private information and steal consumers’ data. However, there are a few simple steps you can follow to minimize the risk of identity theft and protect yourself.

 

Here are 5 tips to help you protect your identity and stop identity theft.

 

1. Fraud Alert
Initiating a fraud alert limits who can access your credit reports. It encourages creditors to take an extra step in order verify your identity before extending credit. If someone applies for credit in your name, you will receiva a phone call asking you whether you initiated the application for credit. If you do not authorize the inquiry, the application will be voided and the identity thief will be stopped dead in theior tracks.

Here’s the link to Experian’s Fraud Alert page: https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html

Click on “Add a Fraud Alert”
Click “Temporary Fraud Alert”
Input your information in the second section titled “Add a fraud alert using your personal information”
And submit the Alert.

Once Experian receives the request they will notify Equifax and TransUnion about the Alert.

 

2. Use Strong Passwords and 2 Factor Authentication
Most consumer advocacy groups suggest using passwords with a minimum of 8 characters with a mix of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use passwords that contain personal information that can be easily guessed like addresses, birthdays, names of children, pets, or phone numbers. Use 2 factor authentication, where available, in order to add a second layer of security.

 

 

3. Shred Personal Documents
There is a lot of personal information in your mail like bank statements, credit card statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc… Put a lock on your mailbox to make sure that your mail cannot be stolen and shred your documents with a good cross-shredder to make sure that your personal information cannot be stolen from your garbage.

 

4. Watch out for Scams
Whether it’s a scam call from Windows, an antivirus service, or the IRS, don’t share your personal/private information. Don’t click on any suspicious links in your email. If you’re leary about something, err on the side of caution and avoid it.

 

5. Check Credit Reports
Checking your credit reports every month may seem like a little extreme and tedius but, if you know what to look for it shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes a month. Whether you check your reports on annualcreditreport.com, Credit Karma, or via any other credit monitoring service – there are X sections that you should review for accurate information.

 

1. Personal Information Section
– Look for any suspicious or unknown name variations
– Look for any suspicious or unknown addresses
– Look for any suspicious or unknown phone numbers
– Look for any suspicious or unknown employers
– Look for any suspicious or unknown addresses

 

2. Account Section
– Look for any suspicious or unknown accounts which you did not open

 

3. Inquiries Section
– Look for any suspicious or unknown inquiries which you did not authorize

 

If you find any inaccurate information you will want to contact the credit reporting agencies to resolve the issue.

 

If you find that your credit was compromised and you are a victim of identity theft you will need to file a police report, file an identity theft affidavit, and submit the documents to the credit reporting agencies and CFPB, along with a section 605(B) request to block all identity theft related accounts from your credit reports. You may also hire a credit repair service like CreditFirm.net to help you file these documents and resolve these issues on your behalf.



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