We all know that New Year’s means attempting to fulfill resolutions. This year, make a few resolutions that will have a lifelong impact: taking proactive steps to protect your identity from the very real threat of fraudsters and data breaches.
Data breaches in 2015 exposed 175,681,126 records,¹ and consumers have paid a total of 1.7 billion dollars due to fraud.² If you aren’t protecting yourself from the growing threat of identity theft, now is the time. Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Annually check your credit reports. If thieves got a hold of your information and used it to open their own accounts, it’ll likely show up on your reports. Not catching a fraudster’s handiwork could do a lot of damage because your credit report feeds your credit score, which follows you around for life – affecting your ability to get a loan with a good interest rate, to get certain jobs, and housing. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) every twelve months, from annualcreditreport.com.
2. Each month, check your credit card and bank statements for transactions you didn’t make. Immediately catching illegal activity is critical because the sooner you report the unauthorized charges, the more likely you’ll be able to get a refund; additionally, the longer it takes to uncover fraudulent activity, the more damage a thief can do, AND some financial institutions limit their recovery services depending upon the amount of time that has passed since the unauthorized transaction took place.
3. Leave the hard work to your Fraud Resolution Specialist (FRS) and identity theft protection services. You can’t be everywhere at once, so get the extra help of ID Protect, a program that monitors your personal information for suspicious activity and provides personal assistance, if you think you are a victim of identity theft. Your FRS is not only available to help with recovery: your FRS can walk you through your credit reports and give you best practices for checking your bank statements.
Statistics show that it can take hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to resolve identity theft issues, making the road to recover very long and very hard for victims who have to go it alone. Taking the necessary steps to protect yourself from identity theft will have a lifelong impact because it can save you from such consequences. Call 888-724-2326 to get started.
¹ Data Breach Reports. ITRC, 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2015. PDF.
² Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January – December 2014. FTC, Feb. 2015. Web. 3 June 2015. PDF.
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