You may not be aware of this crucial fact, but your name, address, social security number, and other personal information are valuable assets for hackers and identity thieves. This information can be used to open accounts, make purchases, and rent cars for people who wish to get these things without paying for them. As a result, it is critical for you to protect your information. If you fail to do this, it could mean thousands and losses, damaged credit and debilitating and gruesome financial prospects.
As we cover extensively in the credit module, your financial history determines whether you get a loan, an apartment, a job, or insurance coverage. That is why you must do things proactively to make sure that your identity is protected. Proactive deterrence is essential, but appropriately reacting to these issues is critical.
There are two forms of identity theft, basic identity theft – when someone steals your identity to obtain new credit accounts, and credit hijacking – when someone uses your existing credit accounts for personal gain. Both are bad, and you must do everything possible to avoid being victimized. Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.
Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free credit report from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax at least once a year. These firms can provide a history of your financial activities. If you see something unusual or wrong, address it immediately.
Place an initial fraud alert on all three of your credit reports. It is important to note that a fraud alert should be used if you feel your identification and personal information have been stolen. When this is done, your data can no longer be sold by the credit bureau to any third party.
Make sure that all of your financial statements or bills arrived in the mail or online. This will ensure that your information has not been stolen.
You should never print your social security number on your checks. Your name and address are sufficient.
Promptly notify your creditors if your address changes or you decide to use a different mailing address, this will help avoid confusion.
If you get unsolicited, unrecognizable emails requesting your personal financial information, immediately delete it. Always assume that the email is a scam. Never, ever give your private financial information to someone you don’t recognize by phone. Unless you have initiated the call, refrain from providing your information.
Don’t give information like your mother’s maiden name, social security number, date of birth, and other information to unknown businesses or individuals. Don’t carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. Nearly one-third of all identity thefts come from stolen purses, checkbooks, or credit cards.
Be creative with your PIN and never carry this information in your purse or wallet. If you lose your credit card or if it is stolen, immediately cancel it to protect your financial situation.
Clean out your computer hard drive before throwing or giving it away.
There are other things that you should do to protect yourself, and we will include these things and a downloadable pdf. Always remember, it is your responsibility to protect yourself from identity thieves.
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