How to minimize your chances of being an Identity Theft Victim
Identity theft, unfortunately has become a common event in our society today. Whether we like it or not, everyone is a possible target--even you!
There are some things one can do to help lower your chances of becoming an identity theft victim. This article will enumerate several of them here.
Monitor your credit
Monitor your credit annually. You can get free credit reports from the three credit bureaus out there: Equifax (www.equifax.com), TransUnion (www.transunion.com), Experian (www.experian.com). Under Federal Law, you are allowed a free report from each of these organizations every year. You can get the reports from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp. This is a site sponsored by the three credit bureaus.
Remove ID Information from Snail Mail
Remove our name and address from mail before trashing them. Specifically, cut or tear any of your name associating you with your home address, phone, and various accounts. Remove any bank account number or credit card numbers as well.
Better yet, just shred everything you don't need.
Delete Junk or SPAM emails
Delete official looking e-mail from your bank or other financial institution asking you click a link to login to your online account because there is some sort of account issue or that there has been some fraudulent attempts on your account. DONT DO IT! This is what's called a phishing scam. Scammers will fool you into clicking a link with an official email that looks like it came from your bank or other financial institution. If you click it, the web site it shows even looks very official.
REMEMBER, banks and other financial institutions don't send emails when there is a problem with your account. At worst, they will mail you something official.
Beware of junk calls
Unless you initiated the phone call with a known legitimate phone number, don't ever provide any of your personal information from anyone over the phone saying that they are from your financial institution or the government. If they truly are legitimate, they should be able to tell you the personal information over the phone.
Get ID Protection
Buy ID protection. There are many services now available to you in order to protect your ID. Here are some: LifeLock (www.lifelock.com) and ProtectMyID (www.protectmyid.com). For a fee they will help ensure that your identity is protected. Most of them provide a free 30-day trial.
This is by no means a complete list, but it shuold be pretty comprensive.
In summary, to help minimize being an ID theft victim, do the following:
- Monitor your credit
- Remove ID information from snail mail
- Delete suspicious junk or spam emails
- Beware of junk phone calls
If you believe your identity has been stolen, check this link for a list of things you need to do immediately.