Many Americans think that identity theft is something that will never happen to them, but the fact is that about 13 million Americans become victims of identity theft every year. That means it’s likely that you or someone you know might fall victim to thieves who use stolen identities to target bank accounts and credit cards. Often victims don’t find out about the theft until the bills arrive, or the use of their identity has a negative impact on their credit report. At this point it becomes very difficult to restore good credit. Here is some advice you can use to protect yourself from becoming a victim, and to be prepared in case it should happen to you.
There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of becoming affected by identity theft. For example, always shred documents and receipts containing sensitive information like credit card numbers or SSNs before throwing them away. It’s also a good idea to switch to a locked mailbox to keep your incoming mail safe. Avoid discussing financial information over the phone where you can be overheard, and keep photocopies of important documents and credit cards in a safe place in case they are stolen.
Avoid sending personal information via email, and never respond to unsolicited messages asking for important information like bank account numbers, etc. Don’t open attachments or download files from sources you don’t know, as these can contain malware that gathers personal information. Use an up-to-date antivirus software to protect your computer. Consider using a service like PayPal when conducting online transactions with unfamiliar retailers to avoid compromising your bank account or credit card information. Learn more about how you can prevent ID theft by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.
Consider Identity Theft Insurance
Purchasing insurance to protect you from identity thieves will simplify the recovery process should you have your information stolen. Heritage ID Theft Protection offers free credit monitoring and coverage for your entire family. You will also be reimbursed for expenses incurred as a result of a theft, and assisted when filing a police report. Click here to learn more about this service provided through Heritage Insurance.
You might not be able to prevent every instance of identity theft, but you can be prepared for the situation should it arise. For instance, program the toll-free member service numbers for any credit or debit cards into your phone. That way, you can cancel the cards easily if they are stolen. Consider having emergency funds ready in case your banking information is stolen, especially if you are traveling. Always check the items on your credit card or bank statement to ensure there are no fraudulent charges, and check your credit report regularly. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you may request a free credit report every 12 months from the three nationwide credit reporting companies; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can order your annual credit report through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website here.
Identity theft can strike anyone, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. With a few precautionary measures, you can ensure that you’ll be ready in the unfortunate event your identity is stolen. Visit heritagepci-idtheft.com for more information about proactive steps you can take to secure your identity.