Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Identity Theft Protection
With many companies reporting mass data breaches and thieves always coming up with new ways to obtain your personal information, we all need to be vigilant about identity theft protection.
Identity theft is when someone uses someone else’s personal information without permission. They can use this information to make purchases, claim benefits, take out loans, open credit cards, or even to start a whole new life. This can wreak havoc on your own life. Among other problems, loans and credit cards taken out in your name can ruin your credit score. Your credit score is used by lenders to determine your credit terms and if you are even approved.
You can help protect from identity theft by monitoring your credit report. Look for any accounts that you don’t recognize and dispute them if you find any. You can also use an ID monitoring service to monitor your credit report for you. For a fee, the service will alert you to certain changes in your credit report and public records. This can give you early detection if your identity is compromised and acting quickly can minimize the fallout.
Monitoring your existing bank and credit card accounts can also help protect from identity theft. Look for and dispute any charges that you didn’t make, even if they are small ones. Sometimes a thief will charge a small amount just to see if the account is still active before they make bigger purchases. Check your accounts often. Again, early detection can save you money and hassle in the future.
Criminals are learning how profitable tax ID theft can be. They use stolen social security numbers to file fake returns and claim the refunds. Filing your return early can help protect from identity theft. Do it as soon as you have the required information; or else when you do get around to it, you may receive a notice that your taxes have already been filed. This puts a delay on receiving your real refund, with the added bonus of trying to work with the not-so-friendly IRS to clean up the mess.