Tips for Protecting Your Identity

black silhouettes of people walking towards a giant white key hole

If you haven’t been affected by identity theft, it’s only a matter of time unfortunately.  Here are some steps you can take to keep the thieves at bay.

  • Annually review credit reports.  You can pull your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Add pins or passwords to financial accounts.  This will prevent thieves from accessing your accounts if they have your personal information.
  • Do not carry your Social Security card.  Consider a safe or safe deposit box for important documents.
  • Shred all mail.  Shred all documents that have your personal information on it.
  • Set up accounts at SSA.gov/MyAccount and IRS.gov.  If someone steals your identity, they can attempt to set up these accounts and get access to earnings information.
  • Consider limiting check use.  Bank account information can be copied and fraudulent checks ordered.  Do not put your Driver’s License number on checks.  Pick up your orders at the bank.
  • Do not use ATM cards for daily purchases.  Switch to cash where possible.
  • Use complex passwords.  Do not use easy passwords like “password”.  Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.  Change them regularly.
  • Use a post office box or locked mail box.  Do not leave mail in unlocked mailboxes.
  • Check all bank and financial statements regularly.  Reporting fraud right away limits your liability.
  • Limit the amount of cards you carry.  Consider only carrying one credit card.
  • Be cautious of fraudulent phone calls.  Fraudsters often call pretending to be a collection agency to scam you out of money.  Request proof of all debts before paying.
  • Do not click on links in emails.  Spam emails can come even from people in your contacts if a fraudster gets access to their mail.  Links often carry malware or key loggers.
  • Download programs from safe sources.  Free software or downloads on the internet often carry viruses.  Be careful where you choose to download from.
  • Do not give out information over the phone.  If the bank calls to verify your information, call them back at the numbers you have on your statements.

The extra time it takes you to shred your documents rather than throwing them away is nothing compared to the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars it could cost you to fix your life if you become a victim of identity theft.  That’s why it is so important to put in the extra effort and protect your information.

Want more tips on managing and protecting your finances and personal information?  Talk with a trustworthy Money Coach and Fraud Resolution Specialist™ at 888-724-2326.