Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Over 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft and only 52% of these victims learned of the fraud by obtaining a credit report. The remaining 26% were contacted by their banks and 8% found out the hard way – by being turned down for credit. You can protect yourself by monitoring your credit throughout the year. Federal law grants you a free credit report each year from the three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Stagger your request from each company every 3-4 months to receive a free credit report throughout the year for no charge.
For added identity theft protection consider companies like Lifelock that monitor your credit for you. Along with monitoring your credit here are a few more steps you can take to further protect your identity:
- Review credit card and bank statements. Unrecognizable small charges may lead to larger purchases.
- Be smart about passwords. Hackers may have access to your alma mater and pet names so choose difficult passwords with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Don’t register credit card information with online retailers. This is especially true on shared computers.
Unfortunately, criminals are becoming more sophisticated with the way they obtain and use your identity. They are now going beyond opening a new credit card to receiving false medical care and even obtaining marriage licenses. Be sure to follow these simple steps and keep your identity safe.