An identity thief can steal your sensitive information to commit fraudulent activities, such as file tax, apply for medical services or credit. Identity theft can damage your reputation, credit status, and cost your money and time. If you receive mysterious bills or credit card charges without shopping for anything, investigate this matter carefully because you are a victim of identity theft.
Sometimes, you may get denials for your loan application, or someone calls you to collect debts for new accounts. All these situations indicate that your identity is stolen and misused. A victim of identity theft may spend over 600 hours in clearing his/her identity. You will need affidavits and reports to prove theft. To protect yourself from this situation, you will need a service such Identity Guard to protect against future theft. Here are some easy tips to decrease the risk of identity theft.
Fraud Alert and Security Freeze
Contact a credit bureau and put a fraud alert on your credit reports. Duration of a fraud alert may vary between 90 days and seven years. After placing a fraud alert, you will get notifications to verify your identity before taking any action on credit.
For a security freeze, you will need a password or PIN to check your credit report. Unlike fraud alerts, you have to pay a fee for a security freeze on credit reports.
Obtain Credit Reports
You are entitled to a free credit report annually from three credit bureaus. Make sure to order these reports once after every four months to monitor your credit. Unfortunately, you can get a report of one bureau at a time. If your reports don’t show identity theft, you might miss these reports for one year.
After using your free annual reports, you can purchase credit reports at $11 to $15. Subscribe to credit monitoring services to get free credit reports.
Monitor Online Accounts
Get access to online banking to check your bank accounts periodically. In this way, you can keep an eye on your accounts and avoid unauthorized charges. For the security of your online bank account, you should not write down your login information. Moreover, don’t share it with anyone. You have to protect this information from identity thieves.
Discontinue Pre-Approved Credit Cards
A pre-approved card can disclose your personal information. Identity thieves can misuse this information to get new credit cards. Make sure to shred credit cards before throwing them away. Pay online bills because identity thieves can steal your checks from a mailbox. Get the advantage of online payment facilities to prevent attacks of identity thieves.
Secure Your Social Security Number
Keep your social security number at a safe place. Avoid putting a social security card in your pocket or wallet. You should not write down its number on a random location. Before giving this number to customer service personnel, carefully see around. Potential thieves can note down your number for its misuse.
Thieves can get your sensitive information via stolen checks. With your checking account number, an identity thief can make purchases and create checks. Pick up your new checks from the bank instead of getting them in your mailbox.