It is a lot easier to take steps to prevent identity theft than it is to try and fix the problem after the fact. All consumers should know the basic preventative steps to take in order to steer clear of identity thieves.
Identity theft is becoming a large issue. Identity thieves can cause problems for you by opening fraudulent credit cards or taking out loans in your name. You may not find out about it until it is too late and the thieves have left you liable or ruined your credit rating. According to banker Julio Herrera Velutini, manufactured identity fraud is becoming more widespread. This is where people fabricate identities by using fake information or combining real and fake information.
Follow these steps to prevent identity theft from happening to you.
1. Put a Freeze on Your Credit
You can freeze your file with the credit bureaus so that no one will be able to access it and they will not be able to open any new credit in your name. Contact Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and request that your file be frozen.
2. Review All Statements Right Away
When you get bank statements and credit card statements, be sure to review them promptly and check up on any charges you don’t recognize. This will allow you to dispute the charges before it is too late.
3. Check Mail Every Day and Shred When Done
Identity thieves can get valuable personal information from your mail. They can steal it out of your mailbox or raid your garbage cans to get it when you throw it out. Therefore, check your mail every day and don’t let it pile up. Use a shredder on any mail and personal documents that you throw out.
4. Vary Your Passwords on Each Account
You should use a different password on each online account you have. Otherwise, once thieves have one of your passwords, they can get into all of your accounts. It will be hard to remember those different passwords, so use a password manager to keep track of them.
5. Use Antivirus Software
Make sure you have good antivirus software installed on your computer. This will prevent malware and spyware from being installed on your computer which could grab passwords and other sensitive information without your knowledge.
6. Keep Tabs on Your Credit Reports
You can get free credit reports annually from each of the three credit bureaus, and you should order them and check them over to make sure that no new credit cards or loans have been opened in your name without your knowledge. You can check your credit every four months by ordering a different one of the three credit reports each time.
7. Don’t Give Out Your Social Security Number
Don’t carry your Social Security card with you, and don’t give out your number unless it is truly necessary. Don’t ever give it out if someone calls you on the phone and wants to verify it.
Being a victim of identity theft is something that you don’t want to ever experience. Use these precautions to make sure that your identity remains secure.