In the United States, there are over 170 million credit card holders. And, more than 10 million of them have been ultimately become the victims of identity theft.
Unfortunately identity theft is not left solely up to credit card users when businesses and the government continue to suffer break-ins or lose critical data with compromising information about people. Cyber crimes have also quickly fueled the identity theft crazy.
There are more and more reports of identity theft and identity fraud on the news every day which makes the crime seem to be a more common occurrence than ever before. It is more important than ever to take steps to ensure it does not happen to you.
There are many ways that you can help yourself and protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Here are five fairly easy, cheap, effective, and popular methods to protect your identity.
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Invest In A Paper Shredder To Prevent Identity Theft
This simple little invention could save you a lot of hassle and prevent identity theft. Make sure you shred all of your documents associated with both your identification and your finances. This includes all credit card and debit card statements, letters from the bank, any type of bank receipt, and other pertinent paperwork with information on it.
When in doubt, it is safer to shred. This is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to protect your identity from theft.
Be On The Lookout For Scams
Everyone has been targeted by some sort of scam at some point in their life. You must be extremely careful when dealing with anyone or any company that you are not 100% aware of and do not 100% trust.
Email scams can often be hard to decipher. You may receive an email that looks like it is from your bank that could turn out to be a phishing scam looking for your login and password.
Another popular scam that tries to steal your identity can come over the phone where someone calls you and pretends to be a representative from a company, and they begin asking for details about you, your life, your banking activities, and other confidential information over the phone.
Many thieves may try to ask you for various information such as your date of birth, passwords, usernames, secret answers, mother’s maiden name, or even your address in an attempt to put together a more complete picture of your identity.
Be Diligent To Protect Yourself And Prevent Identity Theft
This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people leave their purse lying around or make their passwords for important financial accounts as easy as ‘123’ or “password”.
Try not to keep important cards such as your Social Security card with you. While creating passwords make sure they are complicated and extremely difficult for anyone to guess. You should include a mixture of numbers and letters in both upper and lower case and even symbols if possible.
Check Your Credit Report Regularly
Make sure you monitor your credit report on a regular basis. You should be on the lookout for anything odd or a new credit card or account that you did not open that is now on your credit report. Many financial planners recommend checking your credit reports at least every year at a minimum.
You should also check each of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to insure that all three match with the exact same data. myFICO is a great company that can give you not only access to your credit reports but also your FICO score, which is the primary credit score that over 90% of lenders use.
You do not want to be turned down for a loan for a past due account on your credit report that you did not even open. Do not wait until then to find out the bad news. You should be constantly checking your credit history at least once a year or more.
Hire A Company To Protect Your Identity
There are several great companies that will provide you with services that monitor not only your credit report for fraudulent activity but also monitor all aspects of your financial life. The two most popular companies are LifeLock and Identity Guard. Or, sign up for Identity Guard today.
Both offer several products that will keep a close eye on all three of your credit reports, monitor changes, looks for exposure of your personal information, looks for potential identity theft occurrences, and alert you as well. Both, LifeLock and Identity Guard, offer a $1 million identity theft insurance that will help you hire lawyers, experts, investigators, and consultants.
The consultants will help you recover from identity theft and get your good name and credit back if their services do not protect you in the first place. They are that confident in their ability to protect your identity from theft.
According to recent studies conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud used in identity thefts account for only approximately 17% of all identity theft cases. While credit card fraud is the leading issue with identity theft, other crimes that identity thieves commit include government benefits fraud, employment fraud, bank fraud, and loan fraud.
But, the good news is that consumers do not have to take this illegal activity lying down. There are several ways that you can combat the rise of identity theft and keep it from affecting you.
Two popular identity theft protection companies currently are LifeLock and Identity Guard. Sign up for LifeLock today and save 10% off your final purchase.