Closing on this weeks series about Identity Theft here’s a quick action plan you can do today to better protect you from the ravages of thieves.
Protect Your Identity Today
- Buy a Shredder. I know this one’s obvious everyone tells you that you should shred those credit card offers but that’s because it’s important. I know it goes against the power recyclers out there but you don’t want your personal information in the hands of criminals. Make sure it’s a cross cut model like this badboy that’s been serving us well for years.
- Protect Your Mail. This is another simple one. I wrote a whole post awhile back Stop Mail Theft Once and For All covers the intimate details but in essence your identity is really only as secure as your mail.
- Check Your Credit Report. Whether you use it or not you need to check your credit report at least once a year to keep an eye on your reputation. You can do it absolutely free with no strings attached at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Opt Out of Credit Card Offers. By going to OptOutPrescreen.com you can choose to be removed from the three credit reporting agencies mail lists. Do it online for a 5 year period or follow the instructions there to send a letter for a permanent removal. I did this last year and it’s cut my offers almost to zero! Pure bliss. This also means that they won’t get in the hands of the bad guys if they never come to begin with.
- Stop Using the Same Password for Every Website. I know it’s a pain to maintain so many passwords. Believe me I use about 15 different accounts on any given day, I understand. But by using a Password Manager you can keep yourself safer and compartmentalize your security footprint. That’s geek speak for minimize the damage a hacker can reap from your single password.
- Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit Report. Freezing your credit report prevents any new credit lines from being established in your name. This is the veritable deadbolt of identity prevention. You’ll have to do this at all three agencies.
- Consider an Identity Theft Prevention Service. There are several services out there that will monitor your credit through a variety of channels and help you in the event of an identity theft occurrence. TrustedID is the service that FiscalGeek recommends. They go well beyond credit monitoring and alerting providing a variety of services to lockdown your identity.
- Lock Down Your Computer. This ones huge. Not just for your identity but for the general usability of your computer. Make sure that your operating system is set to automatically update itself. Install a good Anti Virus Software like Norton. Regularly use a Malware/Ad Scanner like Ad-Aware (free version).
These 8 steps alone will go a long way in helping you avoid the hardship of reclaiming your identity. If you want some good reasons to take the time be sure to read Warning: Your Identity Is In Danger. A True Crime Story. Have any of your own tips to help prevent identity theft? I’d love to hear them.
(Photo Courtesy Anonymous9000)