As identity theft protection companies continue to defend their customers from thieves, consumers are learning that prevention is the best defense. Most identity thieves are able to steal what they need because consumers neglect to take preventative measures. But, you’re not helpless. There’s plenty you can do to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft. In the article below, we’ll give you a game plan that you can put to immediate use to protect yourself from identity thieves.
Invest In A Document Shredder
Identity thieves love going through your trash. That’s where they can gain easy access to your personal information. For them, your trash is often the path of least resistance. Thieves have learned that most people fail to shred important documents before disposing of them. Papers which include social security numbers and bank account information along with credit card applications are regularly thrown away whole. Thieves use this information to infiltrate your financial life.
Hone Your Peripheral Vision
Learn to look over your shoulder. Thieves often lurk from behind your back to note your passwords and credit card numbers. Whether you’re using the ATM, ordering an item online, or filling out paperwork with sensitive information, make sure nobody is watching from behind. It seems simplistic. But, you’d be shocked by the number of people who become prey for identity thieves by not developing their peripheral vision.
Watch Your Statements Carefully
Everyone leads busy lives. It’s often convenient to neglect checking your bank and credit card statements. We fall into the false security of believing that nothing fraudulent will happen to our accounts. Identity thieves count on your feeling that way. They can take advantage of your financial accounts knowing that you likely won’t notice the activity for months. Take the time to analyze your statements. It only takes a few minutes and can save you a major headache in the future. If you see an statement entry that you don’t recognize, you can take immediate action to protect yourself.
Monitor Your Credit Report Annually
The 3 major credit bureaus will provide you with a free credit report once each year. Take advantage of this. While a variety of data is used to identify you and aggregate your accounts, most of them are linked by your social security number. A review of your credit report will provide you with a “birds eye” view of your financial life. It will include car loans, mortgages, credit cards, department store accounts and other details. If an identity thief has opened an account in your name, that account will be listed on your credit report.
Often, a thief will open a credit card account in your name and have the card and bills sent to a different address. You’ll never receive anything about the new account in the mail. But, a quick glance at your credit report will instantly identify the fraudulent account.
Prevention Is The Best Defense
Most victims of identity theft fail to take steps to prevent thieves from gaining access to their personal information. They may throw away papers with sensitive data without shredding them. They may not notice thieves lurking over their shoulders while they’re at the ATM. Even worse, they’ll fail to monitor their statements and credit report on a regular basis. All of these are simple measures to take. But, you need to be diligent. To protect your credit standing and stave off the assault of identity thieves, prevention is the best defense.
For the truly security conscious consumer, there are several identity theft protection services that will offer you the piece of mind of constant identity monitoring for around ten dollars a month. Lifelock and Identity Truth are two of the identity theft insurance services that we recommend and offer detailed reviews and comparisons on their benefits.