DIY Identity Theft Protection
Protecting yourself from identity theft should be a top priority. However, nothing you do can completely prevent it. What you’re aiming to do is make it harder for a thief to succeed…. and if you are a victim, catching it early will help to minimize the damage.
Here are some free Do-It-Yourself steps from YourIdentitySafe.com that will help to keep you from becoming the next victim.
Go to one of the credit bureaus and place a fraud alert. The other bureaus will automatically be notified of your request. This is free but will need to be renewed every 90 days. http://www.equifax.com
Use your cell phone number when placing the alert so that you’ll get any notifications even if you’re away from home. Also, if you’re trying to apply for credit from a department store or new phone carrier, you’ll have to be contacted for approval.
Check Your Credit Reports
You can get a free credit report from each credit bureau once a year at http://annualcreditreport.com. Space them out to get one every 4 months and you’ll be able to check them for errors without having to pay anything.
Remember, only your credit report is free. If you want to see your credit score, you’ll have to pay for that and it’s got nothing to do with protecting you from identity theft.
Checking your credit reports often will let you see if there are any new accounts or errors.
You can opt out of unsolicited credit offers by calling 1-888-567-8688. Renew every 5 years.
You can also opt out of offers from companies you do business with – like credit card companies. Read the fine print on the annual disclosures they mail you. There’s always a paragraph with information on how to opt-out of offers.
Check Financial Accounts Online
At least every 2 weeks, check your online bank accounts and credit card accounts. Make sure all transactions are only ones you’ve initiated.
Protect Your Personal Information
Things to never carry in your wallet or bag unless absolutely necessary:
- Social security card
- Only needed when getting a new job
- Carry only if you’re in a foreign country
- Use a RFID protection case even if just aluminum foil and duct tape one that you make yourself.
- Birth Certificate
- Medicare Card – only for new doctor visit
Keep the things in the list above in a safe and secure place in your home.
Buy a quality crosscut shredder, the kind that turns paper into little pieces not long strips. That will cost you about $50+.
Things to shred
- All credit offers
- Credit Cards
- Blank checks from your credit card company
- Mortgage offers
- Home Equity credit offers
- Life Insurance offers
- Any paperwork with your personal information on it
- Bank statements
- Investment/brokerage statements
- Bank deposit slips
- Utility bills
- Expired credit cards
- Expired driver’s license
Here’s some more things to do:
- File your tax return early
- Don’t write your PIN on your debit card – or on any piece of paper in your wallet
- Put paid bills into USPS locked/secure mailboxes – not your home mailbox.
- Create strong passwords and use different ones for each financial and email account.
- Be alert for phishing scams in emails or phone calls. Never give out your information or password.
- Keep privacy settings locked down on social sites like Facebook.
These are the bare minimum things you need to do to protect yourself from identity theft. As you can see, anyone can do it, it just takes time and you have to remember to do it. Being gung-ho at the start but then slacking off or procrastinating after 6 months just won’t cut it.
You can get a simple and inexpensive protection plan that will monitor your information plus be there for help if something happens. Click here to learn more.