Most likely you or someone you know has had a personal experience with identity theft. The stories can be short and painless or long and torturous. Consumers need to be proactive in detecting and protecting themselves from identity theft or else they will become the star of yet another tale of identity theft. Being careful with your personal information and practicing credit monitoring can help decrease your risk.
Thieves are always looking for new ways to obtain your personal information, so you need to careful about protecting it.
- Only give your social security number when absolutely necessary and don’t carry the card in your wallet.
- Be careful when shopping online. Only use reputable sites and secure internet connections.
- Shred documents and papers before you throw them away.
- Don’t give personal information in any unsolicited phone calls or emails.
- Be careful where you use credit and debit cards.
No matter how careful you are though, thieves are still going to find a way to get your information, this is why you need to be monitoring credit score. When a thief uses your social security number to open a line of credit, you may not see any indication that the theft has happened for years, other than the changes on your credit report. You should take advantage of your free credit report form each of the three credit bureaus every year. Make sure that you are on the official government mandated site when you request your reports. Look for accounts that you don’t recognize, inquiries from companies that you don’t know, and inaccuracies in your basic information.
Use a credit score monitoring service to keep you protected between your free credit reports. Choose one that monitors your credit report from all three credit bureaus at least monthly. When there are new accounts or other suspicious changes to your credit report, they alert you with a phone call, text, or email. Your credit score monitoring service can also advise you on what your next move should be. Often early detection can make cleaning up your credit report easier.