You lock your door when you leave your house; you hold your purse tightly on a busy street. You probably ask the neighbors to pick up your newspapers when you’re out of town.
We all have certain habits to protect our personal possessions and avoid theft, but what about everyday practices to protect against identity theft?
Most of these preventive measures come down to common sense. The goal is to keep your personal information safe and prevent unauthorized people from getting access to it. Identity theft is scary, and having your identity compromised can cost you a lot of money and time. Follow these best practices and get in the habit of protecting your personal information to avoid identity theft:
- Don’t carry more credit cards than you need.
- Shred all mail and account statements that contain personal information.
- Record all personal and account information electronically and keep a hard copy in a safe, secure place.
- Create strong passwords (don’t use your pet’s name or your birthdate or other easily guessed words) and change your passwords regularly.
- Don’t share your passwords.
- Record your passwords in a secure location, or in an encrypted file on your computer. Don’t write them down and keep them under your keyboard or in a desk drawer.
Whether you’re performing simple account maintenance or dealing with the mess of identity theft, you’ll find it helpful to have the following details easily accessible:
- Account numbers
- Name/personal information on accounts
- Authorized users
- Issuing company and/or bank
- Phone numbers to report lost or stolen cards
Once you’ve recorded all this information, make sure you keep it stored in a safe, secure place.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you do to protect yourself against identity theft, your identity may be compromised in a way that’s out of your control. In addition to getting in the habit of protecting your identity, you can also sign up for an identity-monitoring product, like Equifax’s ID Patrol, that will alert you in the case of identity theft or fraud. The sooner you know that your identity may have been compromised, the easier it will be to clean up the mess.
ID Patrol and other identity-monitoring products from credit-reporting agencies monitor activity on your credit report and credit cards. You can receive alerts when new accounts are opened, when balances change, and for other kinds of credit activity.
The thinking behind this kind of monitoring is that you know what kind of accounts you have and when you make big purchases, so if anything shows up that doesn’t look familiar, it could be a sign of identity theft.
The key to protecting yourself against identity theft is getting in the habit of protecting your personal information and getting real-time information about activities related to your credit and your identity.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.