Better Budgeting: 9 Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

9 Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

by Michelle JonesFounder of BetterBudgeting

Shortly before my mother passed away she endured 6 months of fighting and recovering from identity theft. It was one of the most stressful times of her life. Not only did the thief rob her of her financial identity, but they stole much of her joy during those last few months she was still alive.

If this article helps prevent just one person from going through this then maybe her suffering was not in vain.

Here are some important ways you can help prevent identity theft:

1. Monitor your bank accounts regularly.

2. Monitor your credit, or sign up for a trusted identity protection service, such as LifeLock®

3. Do not share your personal ID numbers, account numbers, or passwords.

4. Keep all your important documents safe. Do not leave them out in the open, or carry them with you.

5. Do not toss old documents in the trash, or even your mail. Buy a decent shredder and shred away. (We bought a cheap shredder once and it didn't last long. It's okay to spend a little bit more on one that will.)

6. Do not give out your personal information over the phone, especially if the company calls you. Hang up, then call them through the correct number to be sure they are who they say they are.

Whenever companies call me and ask for my info, I generally reply, "Are you serious, you want what? NO!"

7. Store checks safely. (In my mother's case, a temp worker had stolen blank checks from their company and used my mother's ID, taken from her purse while she was working out of the room, to cash them. The thief was eventually caught; thanks to video cameras at the bank.)

8. Keep a list of all your accounts put away in case something does happen. When my husband and I were newly married he lost his wallet again and again. I learned to keep copies of everything early on.

9. If you are the victim of identity theft, place a Fraud Alert on your credit and be sure to contact your bank and any other business accounts involved. This is free, and will stay on your credit reports for 90 days. After that time, you can renew the alert if needed.

To File a Fraud Alert:

Contact the three major credit reporting agencies. You will also be entitled to a free credit report from each one.

Equifax
1-800-525-6285

Experian
1-888-397-3742

TransUnion
1-800-680-7289

LifeLock® is the top recommended company for identity theft protection. Check them out, see what you think!

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Copyright © 2015 by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.

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