The key fact to remember about identity theft is that you can fall prey to it at any time. There are instances where even the most careful person has fallen victim to identity theft. Even if you handle all your personal information the best way possible, you still may remain susceptible to data breaches and hack attacks.
However, according to experts, there are a few key steps to remember regarding identity protection.
Keep in mind that most of the information theft takes place when you are unaware of it. It is quite similar to returning home and finding out the place burgled. You need to make sure that there aren’t additional accounts in your name. You can do this by keeping tabs on your credit reports annually. Experian, Equifax, and Transunion all offer free credit reports once every year. The best way to keep tabs is to pull one report from each service every four months. It is vital to remember that the moment you spot fraudulent activity(s), you should dispute it with the lender and let the bureau know as well.
Request a fraud alert to be added and freeze your credit reports till the issue resolves. Keep in mind that when you freeze your report, no requests for new account opening or social security number will be entertained. Only you will be able to lift the freeze and operate the account. With the fraud alert in place, the lender is obligated to call you and verify details for every purchase.
Protect All Personal Documents
Even with online identity theft becoming more common than ever, it is vital to remember that many identity thefts happen due to personal documents and papers’ mishandling. According to experts, here are few ways to protect all your hardcopy documents.
1. Electronic Statements
This is a crucial step as it eliminates the need for a financial paper trail and accounts statement. Mail fraud, even though old school is still a problem, can address it by going digital.
2. Protect Your Mail
You will still receive a few vital paper documents with essential information in your mailbox. This is why it is critical to use a lock and key for the mailbox. You can also get a few packages delivered to the work address for randomizing the pick-up points.
Several tools will allow you to keep your documents safe both online and in the offline world. From a shredder to destroy papers, because dumpster divers are a reality, to locks for safes and drawers – you can keep all your paper documents safe. You can hire third-party identity protection firms for comprehensive online protection as well.
There are several ways to protect data online, and here are some highly-rated tips.
- Be cautious of phishing links and scams – always check the destination URL before clicking on any “click” button.
- Monitor all online accounts and allow push notifications on the phone for activity alerts.
- Be aware of public Wi-Fi ports and access.
- Avoid unsecured websites – do not click on any link without the “HTTPS” link.
Finally, strong passwords are always a great option. Set up your security right and enjoy complete financial freedom.