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How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

by Redeeming Riches on May 3, 2012

Identity theft is now one of the most common crimes in the world because it is quick, quiet, and effective. Identities are often stolen with a few key strokes and the victim may not even find out until months have past. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself from identity theft.

Shred all of your important documents

Shredding your documents is one of the greatest defenses against identity theft. Unbeknownst to you and many other people, identity thieves will usually search through trash to find financial documents and personal information. Trash is never safe and it does not belong to you once it has been placed on the curb, so it is truly up for grabs for anyone. Instead of leaving your financial future to chance, it is best to buy a cross cut shredder and shred all of your sensitive documents.

identity theftphoto by visual panic

Review your finances regularly

A lot of people avoid thinking or even looking at their financial documents and that is what a lot of identity thieves like to hear. They like to know that you are ignorant about your finances and that you have know idea what is going on with them. The best thing to do is stay current with your finances and know how much money you have in the bank, how much credit card debt you have, and etc. because that will make it easier to see if something abnormal is happening.

Protect your computer

Identity thieves may not always reach into your trash, but they will always try to reach into your computer. Your computer is a goldmine for all of your personal and financial information because there are passwords, financial documents, and bank accounts accessible at the touch of a button. Most identity thieves will try to make some attempt to either physically steal the hard drive, which is rare, or they will try to steal your identity online through stealing your passwords.

Consider credit freezes and fraud alerts

If you have reason to suspect that you may have already fallen victim to identity thieves, then it is recommended that you consider a credit freeze or fraud alert. Most banks and credit card companies will offer free fraud alerts that will automatically notify you by email, text message, or phone if they notice that there has been some abnormal activity on your account. All of the credit bureaus also offer credit freezes that will freeze your your credit card accounts and prevent identity thieves from opening any new accounts in your name. Although a credit freeze is a drastic move, it will be effective if you are actually dealing with a case of identity theft. The downside to a credit freeze is that it does require a fee and it will also prevent you from opening legitimate accounts in your name until the credit freeze is over.

Watch out for red flags

Unfortunately, identity theft is not always the easiest crime to detect. It is easy to see that your house has been robbed, but not so easy to see if someone has opened a new credit card in your name. It could potentially take several weeks or months to tie all of the loose ends together and realize that your identity has been stolen. Look out for anything strange happening with your accounts whether it is a purchase you cannot recognize or a drop in your credit score. Also ask questions right away because time is of the essence.

Identity theft may be common, but it is preventable in some ways if you take the right precautions. Stay current with all of your finances and take immediate action if notice fraudulent activity.

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