You may ask yourself, “Why do I need identity theft protection?” If you’ve ever thrown away a receipt, lost a credit card, or received a questionable email asking for personal information, you are making yourself a victim of fraud, and a great candidate for identity theft protection.
How many promotional statements have you tossed that may have your mailing address and full name indicated right on them? Identity theft often doesn’t require much to leave you in a financial mess.
The question becomes, “What can the average person do to ensure that personal information is kept personal, and to guard against possible theft?” Here is a list of suggestions that will help you get the best possible identity theft protection.
Look at your credit reports. These reports contain the kind of information an identity thief is interested in, and the statistics that you should have a good understanding of, in terms of theft protection. The report shows what accounts you have and how you pay your bills.
The law allows you to obtain a free version of this report at least once a year. If an identity thief is operating with your information, this report will show it in some way.
Review the credit reports. Look for any benchmarks that would tell you of possible theft, like inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debits on accounts that can’t be explained. Check to see that all personal information is correct and that an Identity Thief hasn’t tampered with it.
Review your financial statements. Look at your accounts and billing statements on a regular basis. Watch for any changes that seem odd, like debits that you can’t account for and other things that could be the sign of possible theft.
Many victims of identity theft are the last people to know about the situation. Identity theft protection only works if you put it into action before a situation can occur. Sometimes you may only discover you’ve been victimized when you are declined for a car loan or mortgage because of something negative on your credit report.
You may find out about credit cards you’ve never owned that were applied for by an identity thief through a phone call from a collection agency looking for money on unpaid debts. Investigate these occurrences with your bank as soon as you become aware of them to.
Knowing your own security vulnerabilities and how to protect yourself against identity theft are prime methods of its protection. In a world of online shopping and paper statements, it’s your best defense against having to deal with the fallout of a quick, easy crime many people are committing.