Identity theft is a prevalent concern in today’s digital age, and it’s crucial to take steps to safeguard your financial well-being. Here are some actionable tips to consider:
Protecting Your Information:
- Social Security Numbers: Safeguard your Social Security number and use alternative identifiers whenever possible to reduce the risk of exposing their Social Security number.
- Shred Financial Documents: Shred all discarded financial and personal documents using a crosscut shredder, including credit card solicitations.
- Opt-Out of Credit Offers: You can opt-out of receiving pre-screened credit and insurance offers for five years by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visiting OptOutPrescreen.com. For a permanent opt-out, they can initiate the process online and return a signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form.
- Review Privacy Policies: Review privacy policies from financial institutions and opt-out of sharing their personal information with third parties.
Monitoring and Protection:
- Fraud Alert: Place a fraud alert on their credit reports and request a free copy annually to stay vigilant.
- Online Security: Install antivirus software, firewalls, and password protection for personal computers. It is important to use strong, unique passwords for each account.
- Beware of Scams: Don’t open emailed links to access financial accounts and avoid unsecured Wi-Fi for financial transactions.
- Virtual Payment Systems: Use virtual payment systems like PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay to protect card information and avoid giving card numbers to merchant.
- Social Media Awareness: Be cautious about sharing personal information on social networks.
Responding to Identity Theft:
- Obtain Credit Report: In the event of identity theft, you should obtain a credit report and place a 90-day fraud alert.
- Close Tampered Accounts: Close tampered accounts and complete fraud-dispute forms for existing accounts.
- Freeze Credit: Freeze credit with major reporting agencies (Equifax, Transunion, Innovis, and Experian).
- File a Police Report: File a police report to extend fraud alert protection for seven years and keep copies for creditors.
- Complaint with the FTC: The final step is to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Protecting against identity theft is an ongoing process. By following these tips, you can reduce risk and respond effectively if identity theft occurs. Remember, staying informed and vigilant is the key to financial security in today’s digital world.
Katerina Logrono is a Paraplanner at Willow Planning Group, LLC. She is primarily responsible for supporting you in reaching your personal financial goals. Katerina loves exploring new places while helping you live your adventure too!