When it comes to identity theft, people always think, “That would never happen to me…” until it does. If you aren’t actively protecting yourself from identity theft, you should start now.
Thieves can swipe anything. Name, social security number, email address, phone number, medical records, passwords, etc. Once they have this information, they use that information to commit fraud. This could be anything from stealing your tax refund to opening credit cards in your name (ruining your credit) to receiving medical treatment.
When it all boils down, your personal identity is more valuable than the cash in your pocket, so it’s imperative that you do your best to protect it.
How to Know When Your Identity has been Stolen
In truth, the average person may not know immediately that their information is in the wrong hands. Three warning signs are:
- Noticing unexpected charges on your credit card
- Seeing that your credit score has dropped significantly
- Receiving notice from a debt collector (which is only suspicious if it’s not due to debt you acquired on your own)
Precautions You Should Take
There are things people should do on a daily basis to ensure that their identity is safe. In truth, there is never a 100% guarantee that you can protect yourself from identity theft. However, taking the right precautions can significantly lessen the risk.
The basics include building a strong password and setting up two-step identification anywhere your personal information is stored. Beyond that, you should be selective when giving out your personal information. Always check that a web page is secure before entering your credit card, don’t fall for “phishing” scams, etc. Essentially, trust your gut and err on the side of caution.
If you don’t have enough time in the day to monitor your own accounts, credit score, personal information, etc., you can always turn to the professionals. Many banks allow you to set up real-time alerts so you know when your card is used, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.
Many insurance companies (like my own Red Rock Insurance Group) offer identity theft protection services. In a time when even your children’s identity can be stolen without your knowledge, you can never be too safe.
For many, it’s well-worth the peace of mind that comes from knowing your information is constantly being monitored and protected through monitoring, alerts and recovery.