With the recent security breaches at Equifax, Yahoo, Target, and many others, the dangers of identity theft have become increasingly evident to most Americans. The bad news is that despite significant efforts to combat these violations, the criminals out there continue to evolve their behavior and financial crimes of all type are exploding. This seems to be especially true as it relates to identity theft.
The good news is that, though nothing is foolproof, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself from this very invasive crime. Though not an exhaustive list, below are some suggestions to protect your identity:
- Do Not Reveal Personal Information – Never give personal information, such as your social security number, mother’s maiden name, or driver’s license number to an unverified source. The fraudsters will try to pressure you into giving up the information. Hang Up.
- Review Your Monthly Statements – One very important thing to do is to closely review all of your bank statements on a monthly basis and make certain there are no unauthorized charges to any account. Include all credit card accounts as well as bank depository accounts.
- Protect Your Computer – Identities are often stolen through spyware and other types of software that invade your computer. Purchase a quality spyware and virus protection software, and make certain that you keep it up to date.
- Cancel Unused Credit Cards – There is no reason to have credit if it goes unused. Also, the fewer cards you have open, the less you’ll have to monitor.
- Monitor Your Credit – Take advantage of your annual free credit report. Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your free report, and consider purchasing additional copies throughout the year for monitoring purposes.
- Consider Subscribing to a Service – Companies such as LifeLock, Equifax, and others provide a degree of protection as well as some peace of mind. However, nothing is foolproof, so remain ever vigilant!
There are a number of resources out there that provide you with further information to protect your identity. One quality source of information is IdentityTheft.gov. a website devoted to this topic sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission.
Joey P. Root
President & CEO