The holiday season is all about online shopping, donating to charity, spicing up your social media account with happenings, and prepping for taxes. As your information gets spread all across the internet, you turn into more of a target for criminals. Don’t start 2019 off by becoming a victim of identity theft. Protect yourself with these quick tips.
Secure Your Personal Information
Protection begins with keeping such personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email address, social security number and card numbers secure. Don’t give out data just because someone asks. Use phone numbers, emails and addresses from work when possible, and shield your credit card numbers and passwords from prying eyes when you use them. Under no circumstances should you be giving out your social security number unless in rare government situations. Once thieves have this critical piece of info, they can easily start pretending to be you online.
Guard Your Mobile Devices with Passwords
It may be more convenient to leave your smartphone fully open but what happens if you accidentally leave it somewhere or somebody deliberately takes it? Your entire life suddenly becomes exposed to criminal intent on taking over. Always password-protect personal devices. If biometric security is available, such as through a fingerprint sensor, use it because unless thieves have your thumb, your stolen device becomes useless to them.
Monitor Your Financial Statements
With today’s communication technologies, any transactions that occur on your cards are instantly accessible online. So, monitor your credit card, debit card, and bank account information at least once a week, if not more often. You’ll be able to spot financial shenanigans immediately and call your service provider to shut it down. Fortunately, you’re normally NOT liable for any mischief in your accounts. However, the stolen money may not be available to you for some time while your provider tries to fix it.
Check Your Credit Reports Frequently
If someone opens a credit account or takes out a loan in your name, you may not find out about it for months until you start getting the bills. However, that process shows up almost immediately in your credit reports, so they’re worth checking on frequently. Your credit card may already allow you to check your credit reports for free. If not, you can get your report for free and without obligation at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Establish Fraud Alerts
Fraud alerts prompt card providers and other financial service providers to take extra steps to verify identity when an account is opened in your name, including contacting you. Such an alert is free and can be initiated by contacting one of the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, or Transunion. Who you contact must then inform the other two bureaus to place the alert. A fraud alert does not affect your credit score and can be renewed each year.
To find out more about protecting yourself from identity theft, please give us a call at Kyle Insurance Group – Affordable American Insurance.