While identity theft is a real problem that everyone should be alert to, it is a problem that has definitely been over-hyped by specific companies that are trying to sell a particular service. Rather than spending a large amount of money to protect your identity, consider the following 8 steps:
- Don’t get scared, get serious – Many of the horror stories that most people have heard make people think that identity theft is something that happens to countless people every single day. In actuality, there are less than 1% of U.S. families that run into this problem. To lay another myth to rest that it can take months to solve, the problems that do occur can generally be fixed within a few short weeks. When it comes to identity theft, a majority of problems occur when a credit card or checks have been stolen, not from a person’s entire identity being taken. Another thing to keep in mind is it’s usually the banks and issuers of the credit cards that are liable for the loss that occurs. The best way to stay protected from identity theft is to take the steps necessary to keep your credit cards, checks and important papers safely away from hands they shouldn’t be in.
- Take advantage of security freezes and fraud alerts – A security freeze can make it impossible for anyone to access your credit report, except for those that you already have a business relationship with. In the event someone has stolen your identity and they are trying to obtain new credit, it is unlikely they will succeed since lenders will be unable to view your credit report. Security freezes are essential when identity theft is suspected.
- Keep electronic devices secure at all times – There are numerous electronics devices that many people use on a regular basis for numerous business and financial matters. When using computer systems, flash drives, iPads and smart phones, it is essential to learn the steps needed to make certain the data on these devices remains protected. Aside from using passwords that contain both upper and lower case letters, you should also use numbers and other symbols as well. When personal and banking information is kept on devices like this, it is also recommended to use an encryption program.
- An ID theft file is important – The theft of your identity could be disastrous if you do not take the steps required to create an ID theft file. This is simply a folder that you set up on your computer system that contains important data and documents. It is however a must to make sure this file is kept in a safe and secure place at all times. Some items to keep in this folder include annual privacy notices, credit reports, security-breach notices, security-freeze passwords and documents and any evidence that pertains to suspected identity theft. Other items that should be stores in this file include club memberships and photocopies of credit cards and your drivers’ license.
- Regularly check your credit report for errors – It is not uncommon for unsuspected errors to appear on a person’s credit report. This is something that you will want to check for often and fix any errors you come across as quickly as possible.