Fighting Identity Theft

Life Transitions Planning

Deter Identity Thieves

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To safeguard your personal information and deter identity thieves, you should adopt the following habits:

  • 1. Always shred personal documents before you discard them.
  • 2. Resist giving out your social security number, and do so only if required.
  • 3. Do not carry your social security card around with you.
  • 4. Do not give out personal information unless you know who you are dealing with.
  • 5. Avoid clicking on links sent in unsolicited emails.
  • 6. Avoid using typical passwords like your birth date, mother’s maiden name, etc.
  • 7. Keep your personal information in a secure place, such as a home safe.

Detect Suspicious Activity

While employing the deterrents listed above is good practice, you should also routinely monitor your financial accounts and billing statements, and take immediate action if any of the following occur:

  • 1. Bills do not arrive as expected.
  • 2. Unexpected credit cards or account statements are received.
  • 3. Credit is denied for no apparent reason.
  • 4. Calls or letters are received about purchases you did not make.

In addition to these fraud detection mechanisms, you should also inspect your credit reports on a regular basis. The major reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required under law to provide a free copy of your credit report every year if you request it. Financial accounts and billing statements should also be inspected for irregularities and the appearance of charges you did not make.

Defend Against Identity Theft

If you suspect that identity theft has occurred, the following steps can be taken:

  • 1. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • 2. File a police report to establish proof to a creditor that a crime has occurred.
  • 3. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
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