Having your identity stolen is not only unsettling, but can take years of frustration and red tape to fix. It will likely take a major toll on your credit score, wallet, and even well-being. To help avoid this nightmare from happening to you, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 best ways to protect your identity.
1. Protect your Social Security number.
This simple number can give thieves access to your credit reports, bank accounts, and a number of other pieces of important personal information. Don’t keep your Social Security Card on your person, in your phone, or anywhere it can be easily stolen. Your card should be stored in a secure location and digits kept a secret.
2. Use strong passwords and change them frequently.
Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords including birthdays, common phrases, and names of schools or workplaces. Strong passwords usually consist of a long combination of letters and at least one uppercase letter, number, and symbol. It is best to use different passwords for all accounts and change them frequently to avoid being targeted.
3. Monitor and review financial statements.
Periodically check the vendors and retailers on your credit and debit card statements to ensure you recognize them. Report any suspicious activity or charges to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible.
4. Destroy records and credit card statements.
Make sure you shred documents containing sensitive information and, if you are keeping hard copies for your records, store them somewhere secure. Don’t throw away bank or credit card statements as they may contain private financial information that could be used by identity thieves.
5. Don’t fall for phishing scams.
Don’t give out personal information to unknown callers, in email, or to unfamiliar websites. These scams usually claim to be from a trustworthy company that you know, like a bank or popular company. It is always better to double check that an inquiry is legitimate by calling the company yourself and verifying before giving out any personal information.
6. Secure your mobile device.
Although phones are easy places to store information, avoid keeping passwords or important information in them, like bank account numbers or your social security number. Ensure the highest protection by locking your device with a passcode and don’t leave it unaccompanied in public places.
7. Check your credit report.
There are three major credit reporting bureaus that are required to give you one free credit report a year, each. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Utilize them all and check your credit once every few months to keep up to date and review information. If you notice suspicious activity, contact your credit card company immediately.
8. Get Kasasa Protect™.
Worrying about identity and credit theft can be exhausting; that’s why we offer Kasasa Protect. Kasasa Protect is a comprehensive identity protection and restoration solution available to add to your RMLEFCU checking account. It provides you peace of mind by offering 24/7 credit monitoring, identity theft protection, restoration services, and more. Check out our account services to learn more and register today!
Although there are many more ways to protect your identity, by following these simple steps you can greatly decrease your risk of identity theft and fraud. It is better to be proactive in protecting your information than dealing with the headache of a stolen identity after the fact.