The Easiest Ways to Protect Your Identity

There are identity theft protection services that monitor credit reports and notify you of any suspicious activity.  That’s a great way to stay confident in your awareness and ability to respond to identity theft.  However, companies won’t guarantee that your identity will not be stolen.  While it’s impossible to prevent yourself from becoming a target, you can make it very difficult for fraudsters.  Here are some easy ways to protect your identity from theft.

In addition to the solutions below make sure you look out regularly for medical bills you don’t recognize.  Another thing to be aware of is missing tax refunds.  Both of these are common problems found while confronting fraud.

Regularly Read Your Statements

One way to stay on top of your accounts and avoid a case of stolen identity is to always read your mail.  It’s so important to be up to date on all of your account statements.  If there is anything suspicious, you want to be able to catch it.  It is a good habit to get into, albeit a difficult one.  Just remember, that it is the first step in combating identity theft and protect your identity by being aware of what is happening on your accounts.  Every statement you get in the mail and every emailed monthly report must be evaluated.  Maintaining this habit also helps you be more aware of your own spending and budget more effectively.

Strong Passwords

You use passwords for everything.  It is very difficult to even remember all the passwords that are attributed to you.  One way to sidestep the confusion is to just have the same password for all of your accounts.  But that is a very bad idea.  The key to eluding potential fraudsters is to shake things up with a different password for every account you have.  You may be tempted to pick something personal to help you remember, but that is a bad idea, too.

While it seems unlikely, people who want to steal your personal info can more easily figure out your password if it uses personal info.  In part, this is because your personal information is probably not as private as you would expect.  People who pose a threat to you can use easy-to-access information like names and birthdates to guess you password.  Then they can obtain more information that can help them cheat you.

Give Information Cautiously

As with your passwords being impersonal to avoid vulnerability, be aware of your personal information online.  Don’t share information with unsolicited sources to better protect your ID. Only trust secure sites.  websites use cookies to track your computer and use specific information, usually to sell you something.  This generally accepted as harmless and tolerable, though it can be eerie, or annoying when you see finely targeted ads pertaining exclusively to you.  Trust is a very important component to sharing information on the internet, and it’s necessary to use critical thinking when providing information online in order to protect yourself.

Fraud Alerts

To create a fraud alert, you will need to contact a credit reporting bureau and request that they contact the others as well. You can create a fraud alert if your identity has been stolen, or even if you just believe it to be compromised.  It merely makes it so that creditors must take additional steps to be reasonably sure that you are the one they are dealing with, rather than an imposter.  They will either contact you at a phone number you provide, or in person.  There are two different kinds of fraud alert: initial and extended.

Initial

An initial fraud alert is the most common.  It is a way to protect yourself against suspected fraud by making creditors verify that it is you they are working with and not an imposter.  a fraud alert of this kind remains on record for 90 days.  After which the alert expires.

Extended

This type of fraud alert is something you can do only once.  If you qualify for it, it will stay on record for 7 years.  This fraud alert protects consumers who are actually victims of identity theft and have filed a police report.  The seven-year span helps to ensure that no fraudulent activity takes place within that time and your credit will be better preserved as of the time of discovery.

Credit Freeze

Another action you can take as a preventative measure against fraud is freezing your credit reports.  Contact each of the credit report bureaus to make sure this is effective.  By doing so you prevent any new accounts from being opened.  Of course, this can work against you, too.  Make sure you don’t plan on relying on your credit to open a new account while you do this.  Freezing credit reports is also a tactic parents use for their minor children although state laws vary in regard to this.