Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Millions of people are the victim of identity theft each year and that number is increasing according to a recent study by the Bureau of Justice. Over 8.6 million households reported at least one member being the victim of Identity theft in 2010, an increase from 6.4 million households in 2005.
Don't throw away anything that contains personal information- shred it instead. If it's paperwork such as credit card statements or tax information that needs to be held onto for a time, be sure to lock it away.
Monitor all of your financial accounts on a regular basis. You should receive monthly statements from any accounts you have. It's also a good idea to check your credit report once a year. Maintain the information carefully, taking note of any suspicious activities and reporting them immediately.
A common tactic for identity thieves is to send out emails claiming to be from a bank or credit card company asking for personal information, like your Social Security number or password. The emails may look legitimate, but a reputable company will never ask for such information in an email.
Identity theft doesn't just happen over the internet - credit card applications or bills can be stolen right from your mailbox. If you plan to be away from home for a few days, ask a friend or neighbor to collect your mail or have it held at your local post office.
You can request to place a freeze on your information at the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This will prevent the agencies from releasing information without your authorization. A small charge of $5 to $12 may apply and you will need to lift the freeze when you apply for additional credit.
If your information is stolen take immediate steps to correct the situation - file a police report, notify your creditors and try to disrupt any additional spending. Don't get complacent with your personal information. Protecting yourself is about constant vigilance.