Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America and every three seconds an identity is stolen. Did you know there were 11.6 million adult victims of ID theft in 2011?
“Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. It’s a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation – and can take time, money, and patience to resolve.” – FTC
Here are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim and how you can safeguard your identity.
Your identity is already out there all over cyber space, and there isn’t a thing you can do to change that. You will want to take these easy steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
a. Make sure your passwords are strong and change them periodically. It is best to use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols with some of the letters being upper and lower case.
b. When shopping online, look for the security seal as well as the https in the URL.
c. Keep an eye on your credit score. You can and should request a free credit report from the big three credit reporting agencies once a year.
d. When you aren’t using your identification documents such as your Social Security card, birth certificate, or passports keep them in a secure location.
e. Watch for “skimmers” at ATMs and gas pumps. Skimmers are devices placed in or over a machine that accepts your credit or debit card. Sometimes these are hard to detect so make sure you keep a look out.
f. When you no longer need to keep printed materials with your personal information on them, don’t throw them away, SHRED THEM! Keep an eye on your children’s information too. Children are easy targets. When a child’s identity is compromised it can go undetected for many years causing tremendous damage to their financial health.
You can still become a victim even if you are vigilant at monitoring your identity for errors and inaccuracies. It is much easier to safeguard rather than recover your identity. Safeguard your identity by taking the above steps. I recommend you enroll in an identity theft monitoring service to protect you and to alert you if someone attempts to steal your good name. By enrolling in a service you are far more likely to not only become aware that someone is attempting to steal your identity in a timely manner; you will have a greater chance of stopping the crime before major damage is done.
There are several legitimate identity theft protection companies available to choose from. Do your due diligence when choosing the company that fits your needs the best.