Last week, I discussed six ways in which identity thieves obtain your personal financial information, which they then use to steal your identity. So how can you prevent identity thefts from occurring?
The Federal Trade Commission recommends a three-pronged approach.
- Deter. Safeguard your information in order to deter identity thieves from obtaining your information. Some ways to do this include:
- Shred all financial documents.
- Do not click on links in unsolicited emails or pop-up advertisements. Use anti-virus software on your home computer and keep it updated.
- Do not use obvious passwords.
- Don’t give out your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. Don’t have it printed on checks and do not keep your card in your wallet or purse.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone unless you know who you are dealing with or you initiated the contact.
- Detect. Detect suspicious activity involving your identity by monitoring your financial accounts.
· Be alert for bills or mail that does not arrive as expected.
· Look for calls about purchases you did not make or accounts you did not open.
· Monitor your credit report. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report each year.
· Review your account statements for suspicious charges.
- Defend. Once suspicious activity is detected, defend yourself against identity theft.
· Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Creditors will then have certain procedures in place if someone opens an account in your name within 90 days.
· Close accounts that are fraudulent.
· File a police report.
· Make a complaint with the FTC.