Protect Your Family From Identity Theft
Hi Money Masters,
You know, there are a lot of commercials on TV that like to scare Americans into buying products or services. Let’s take identity theft, for example. Identity theft is very scary and very real. According to a 2018 survey by The Harris Poll, almost 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft. There are identity theft prevention programs and products available to consumers, of course. The decision to utilize one of these programs is a personal one. As with any purchase, you should do your research first before you purchase. But, I am here to talk about what YOU can do on your own to reduce the risk of identity theft and protect yourself and your family, whether you decide to use products or services as well.
Where do we start?
Here are some simple and easy ways you can begin with to protect your identity, thus keeping your family’s money, credit, savings and SANITY safe!…
- Never leave your wallet or purse unattended and make sure it is closed securely. Also, you should not carry any social security cards in your wallet.
- Keep financial statements, tax documents, medical records, etc. in a locked/secure area at home. Shred paper docs when you no longer need to retain them.
- Be careful what personal information you put on social media sites. Once it’s out in cyberspace, you never know where it’ll land!
- Take advantage of your financial institution’s mobile alerts.
- Check the credit report for each adult member of your family regularly, but don’t forget about minors. A minor, generally, should not have a credit report, but parents should check. Minors DO have a social security number, which puts them at risk as well. Thieves can use it to open credit card accounts and more!
Now let’s get a little more in-depth!
Now that you have the basics covered, you can take your security to the next level. The following are ways in which you can stop identity thieves in their tracks…
- Put a security freeze on your credit reports with all 3 credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). This will prevent anyone from seeing your report. They can cost between $0-20.
- For those instances in which you think you’ve seen a sign of theft and haven’t put a security freeze, you should immediately put a fraud alert on your report. These are free and last for 90 days. Any prospective lender would see the alert.
- Opt out of unwanted credit card offers. Those pre-approved offers that come in the mail can be stolen right out of your mailbox. You can do this by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 888-567-8688 to stop credit bureaus from selling your name to lenders.
If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud you must act immediately! Contact your creditors and financial institutions to report the information in question. Go ahead and pass this info on to your friends and family so we can stop identity theft!
Blessings to you all,