How To Protect Your Identity
The old adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure is especially true when it comes to protecting your identity. In the hands of a criminal, your identity can be used as a key to unlock access to your credit and other aspects of your personal finances.
Use an Identity Theft Protection Service
Although not free, perhaps one of the most vigilant steps you can take to protect your identity is to work with a professional identity theft protection service. There are many benefits in doing so, some of which include:
- Advanced technology – to monitor and assess your risk. Identity Theft protection services offer technology that can help continuously monitor millions of data sources, analyze your personal risks and provide customized preventative measures.
- Time savings – through a streamlined and simplified process. Many Identity Theft protection services offer comprehensive, all-in-one options to make it much easier for you to keep tabs on your identity while saving time over doing the work all yourself. For example, some protection plans can save you time by monitoring your risk and sending applicable alerts in addition to providing you with quarterly updates on your credit reports and scores from all three bureaus.
- Additional protection – in the event you are victimized. While it’s up to you to understand what’s covered and what’s not, all reputable identity theft protection services offer insurance which can provide you with an additional level of financial protection should you fall prey to an identity thief.
Intersections Inc., the creator of Identity Guard, has helped protect the identities of more than 47 million consumers over the last 20 years. As a service built on experience, Identity Guard is prepared to assist you with all your Identity Theft protection needs. Identity Guard has been recognized by the Online Trust Alliance as “Top of the Class” in implementing the best practices in data security and privacy and by Kiplinger Finance magazine as 2015’s Best ID Protection Service for Identity Guard Total Protection*.
To learn more about Identity Guard and compare their plans, click here!.
*Kiplinger Finance magazine’s 2015 Best ID Theft Protection award for Total Protection, based on affiliate ranking by NextAdvisor.
Tips and Steps to Protect Your Identity
Don’t give out your personal information – but if you do, exercise extreme caution. Also, be aware of deceptive “phishing” schemes that spoof email headers or website URLs to trick you into submitting your personal information to a thief. The same goes requests for personal information made by phone. If you have even the slightest doubt, it’s better to take the extra effort to verify the request before providing your information.
Consistently review your statements – this will help you notice any criminal activity as soon as possible. Keep a close eye on your credit card statements but also don’t forget to closely review medical and tax-related documents as well as these are also common areas that thieves target.
Consider a fraud alert – if you have concerns that your identity may have been lost or stolen. Filing a free initial fraud alert can be an effective tool to help combat unauthorized use of your credit. A fraud alert helps to limit your risk by requiring a business to verify your identity before issuing credit. This makes it more difficult for criminals to exploit your identity. An initial fraud alert lasts (and stays on your credit report) for 90 days. You can also renew it after 90 days.
To file a fraud alert, you need only contact one of the credit bureau below and they will be obligated to share the information with each other — providing you coverage for all three bureaus.
TransUnion – 1-800-680-7289
Experian – 1-888-397-3742
Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
The FTC provides a wealth of additional steps you can take to help keep your identity as safe as possible. Click here to review the FTC’s recommendations.