Identity theft is a terrible crime and it happens to thousands of people around the country every day. With the onslaught of technology and the sophistication of the identity theft industry, you can often fall into a trap without even knowing it’s right in front of you. The best way to protect yourself and your families are to follow a few easy tips that can protect you from identity theft criminals and the mind-blowing damage they can cause both emotionally and financially.
Tip #1: Protect your items of identity.
It’s important to protect the items that share your identity. This includes you social security card, your state identification, your work identification, your car registration and insurance cards, your birth certificate, stocks, bonds, investments, banking information, credit information, vital records and anything else that can be used to gain more information about you to use against you. If you are a mother, or even a single parent, you likely carry the same information for your children. They are most vulnerable because they have not yet entered the credit world and though their date of birth will be accessible to potential creditors, it is often not checked. You should only keep copies of your social security, vital records and all investment or banking information in your home. These should be kept in a fire-proof safe that is bolted to the floor of a closet or secured to the house in some other way. The originals should all be in a safety deposit box with a bank you can trust.
Tip #2: Monitor your credit.
It’s vitally important to obtain and monitor all three of your credit reports on a yearly basis. You can order them for your children too and it’s a good idea to do so. This gives you the chance to get familiar with your credit report and learn how to look for and dispute mistakes on a regular basis which will allow you to catch theft in enough time to recover from the theft and work with creditors and reporting agencies to restore your credit back to the way it was.
Tip #3: Shop and spend wisely.
This is most important if you shop online. There are so many options for shopping online now and the convenience is amazing with next day to your door service without every having to go to the mall, grocery store or other place. You can also pay bills online and maintain your investments, but all this access leaves you wide open to thieves who can hack in and monitor the financial information you put into and save in your computer and online accounts. To help avoid this erase your cookies on a regular basis and only shop on sites that are certified secure.
There are many ways to prevent identity theft and with a little practice you and your family can help guard against identity thieves and avoid a terrible situation. Working to prevent identity theft can also make for a quicker recovery if a theft does occur and help you to bounce back with minimal damage to your credit and future borrowing power. To win the fight against identity thieves it’s important to stay diligent and always be watching for mistakes and things on your credit and accounts that just don’t seem right. Train your children to do the same thing from a young age and they will learn to respect their credit right from the start.