Historically, 13 is considered an unlucky number. Add a few zeroes behind it, and you’re closer to the more than 13 million Americans who easily fall prey to identity theft each year. Why is it so easy? As consumers, we make it easy for identity thieves to access our records by frivolously throwing around our information as if it were as unimportant as a piece of blank paper. Let’s look at how to prevent becoming part of the unfortunate 13 million.
Protect your credit card numbers
Your numbers are the gateway between you and fraudulent activity. When reciting credit card numbers over the phone, take care to only provide them if you initiated the call. If someone calls and asks for credit card numbers, ask for their name and extension, then disconnect. You can call the primary phone number for the business and ask to be routed to that person.
Take care with your actual card, as well. Be sure to tuck it away in your wallet or purse after making an in-person purchase. Call the bank or credit card company immediately if you find you have left the card behind.
Don’t store your online passwords
Between work and home, we typically have a large number of user names and passwords. Every site has a “Remember Me” feature, and some browsers offer to remember passwords, too. This makes it easy for identity thieves to slip in and steal pieces of information. Avoid saving passwords; that applies to every website, from banking and email sites to those of your social media and favorite shopping destinations.
Opt in for text alerts
Many banks and credit card companies now offer text alerts as an option for their clients. You can opt in to receive an alert when a purchase is made with your card. In this manner, you are aware when there is activity on your card and can be well informed of fraudulent activity.
Check your credit card statement carefully
Review your statement every month. Even if you paid online, thoroughly review your statement to be sure you haven’t missed any fees or unaccounted-for purchases.
Check your address
Verify your address with your credit card company and bank from time to time. It is a common scam for thieves to change your address and have your bills sent elsewhere. A brief amount of time could save you a big headache.
Shred your documents
It’s amazing what thieves can use to steal your information. Anything with your financial information is candy for an identity thief. It’s imperative that you even shred pre-approved credit card applications, since even those bear enough information for someone to open an account in your name.
File reports immediately
Immediately contact your credit card company as soon as you see something suspicious on your statement. The longer you delay, the more difficult it is to resolve irregularities and the greater the opportunity you allow thieves to engage in fraudulent activity.
Protecting yourself from identity theft requires just a little bit of upfront effort on your part. Cleaning up the aftermath, however, is another story. If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, remember that consulting a credit repair specialist such as Ovation can be a prudent option for maintaining your credit score. The road to recovery can be long, but restoring your credit can certainly be achieved. Whether you’re recovering or protecting yourself, start today.