Preventing Identity Theft
Preventing Identity Theft is Very Important in Protecting Your Financial Fitness
In this day and age of connected computer networks, your identity is a hot commodity to thieves. With your identity, thieves can potentially have items shipped to them, open new accounts in your name, even commit other crimes while posing as you.
It’s easy to see the devastating impact identity theft can have on your financial health and well being. Your reputation, your credit, your standing, and your own ability to borrow funds when needed can be put in peril for many years.
An important question to ask yourself is: “What steps can I take to prevent my identity from being stolen?”
This article is intended to be a helpful mini-guide of active steps you can take right now to help prevent identity theft and protect your good credit:
Opt out of Pre-Approval Offers with 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688)
Do you receive a lot of mail or email from folks that say things like “Congratulations, You are Pre-Approved” or “You’ve been Selected to Go on a Free Cruise” or the like? These communications are likely what is known as Pre-Screened Offers.
While these offers seem harmless enough as you can easily ignore them or through them in the trash, the trouble is that these companies have your information in the first place. Marketing companies get your information from the credit reporting agencies or places like them based upon requests for demographic data. For example, the companies may say “Send us a list for everyone in this zip code who is married and has 650-720 as their credit score”. So when the companies receive their list with your name on it, they now have your name, address, and they know you are married and have a credit score of between 650-720. That’s a lot of information on you floating around that could possibly be used to steal your identity.
In order to limit the number of companies receiving information on you, a recommendation is to use the FTC Opt-Out service to be removed from these lists.
Be Super Aware of the Dangers of Public Wi-Fi, Phishing for Passwords, Skimming, and Juice Jacking
Other common ways people have their identity stolen is when thieves intercept passwords or personal information from your phone or laptop. Be aware of these common schemes.
Public Wi-Fi: Anytime you are using a Wi-Fi out in public their is a possibility that someone may be snooping the line and intersecting your communications. Be very careful about accessing online banking, stock trading, or any other financial site on public Wi-Fi.
Skimming is a manner by which thieves can steal credit card numbers from a terminal. This could be when you pay for gas, use your credit card at a store, or pay for your meal at a restaurant. Be on the lookout for any suspicious looking item attached to any of these terminal devices. They could be used to take your credit card numbers.
Juice Jacking is becoming more common. Juice Jacking is when a thief places a piece of hardware in the charging stations that are becoming more common in public places like restaurants or airports. When you plug your phone or laptop in to charge, the thief can potentially download or install software to your device designed to steal your data.
Monitor Your Credit using free credit card monitoring apps OR creditkarma.com
CLICK HERE to sign up for a free Credit Karma account
Get Your Free Annual Credit Report at Annualcreditreport.com
Watch out for new cell phones in your name that you did not order – big alert
In many cases the first this a identity thief will do is order a new phone in your name. Why? Because now they control that phone number and when they order additional items or apply for additional credit in your name, they can use that phone number to answer and claim to be you if they are called. When banks suspect fraud, they call the phone number on record to verify the transaction. If the thief controls the phone, then they can verify the transaction and have it complete.
Watch the Video below from IdentityTheft.gov
Be Careful with Social Media
Identity thieves may not be able to get enough from your social media on its own, but they can use it to verify important information. For example, your mother’s maiden name or the town you were born in, both common security questions.
Enroll in Identity Theft Protection Insurance
Consider enrolling in an Identity Theft Protection Insurance program. Perhaps like this one available to Costco members.
What do you do if Your Identity is Stolen?
WAS YOUR IDENTITY STOLEN?? CLICK HERE to take the next best steps to regain control.