10 Tips to Protect Your Identity Now
10 Tips to Protect Your Identity Now

In 2012, direct and indirect losses from identity theft cost consumers $24.7 billion! Only about 7% of people ages 16 and over were victims that year, but $24.7 billion is still a lot of money. And identity theft can happen in so many ways – theft from a spouse, unauthorized use of a bank account, misuse of personal information and more.

With so much opportunity for theft, how can you protect yourself? The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers protect themselves, has some great resources. We’ve pulled some of those tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t give your social security number out to anyone who doesn’t need to have it. Use it only for your taxes, employment or credit reasons.
  2. Put all of your outgoing mail in a secure mailbox or at the post office.
  3. Use strong passwords for all of your online financial accounts. Use a mix of letters, numbers and characters. I use Passpack or Dashlane to store my passwords securely. Norton also offers a password dashboard.
  4. Use firewall software like Norton to protect your computer from unauthorized access.
  5. Shred personal documents with a cross-cut shredder. Sometimes local banks will host shredding events where documents are shredded on site for free.
  6. Be familiar with the billing cycles for your accounts and contact your creditors and utility companies if your bills are not received on time.
  7. Review all bank account and credit card statements carefully – whether in print or online. Some have time limits to report fraudulent activity.
  8. Never give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or online unless you initiated the contact and know the organization you are dealing with.
  9. Reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive by calling 888-5OPT-OUT.
  10. Get a copy of your credit report and check for unauthorized accounts or usage. You can get one free copy per year at AnnualCreditReport.com or by phoning 877-322-8228.

We’ll write more about identity theft, so subscribe to our blog to stay informed. If you ever have a question or want more info., Penny Smart Girl would love to help! Just give us a call or send us an email through our website.

From chaos to calm,

Meka

*Source: Identity Theft Resource Center

About Meka

tameka
Hi my name is Meka, the Penny Smart Girl®. I'm an accountant, certified Quick Books ProAdvisor and a Personal Finance Expert (aka Money Coach). I love calculators, balancing budgets, and helping demystify money woes. I bring calm to my client’s chaos. I make unknowns, known. Just me, you, and a calculator or two.

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