How To Protect Your Identity

These days, identity theft is a real threat, and you certainly want to take whatever steps you can to protect yourself and your family. This can seem like a real challenge, though, because identity theft can happen when you least expect it. Yet there are ways that you can minimize your risk. Read on to learn about some of them.

Read Up on the Realities

You might start by learning more about identity theft and how it can happen. Robert Ryerson of Freehold, NJ, has written an informative book on the subject that is bound to be enlightening and to make you even more committed to protecting your own identity and the identities of your loved ones. It can be easy to pass identity theft off as something that will never happen to you, but that is simply not true.

Track Your Finances

Your next step is knowledge. Know your credit score, and keep track of it frequently. Unexplained changes can alert you to potential problems. Also keep a close watch on your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and other financial dealings. You should know exactly where you stand financially at all times and report any suspicious activity at once. You can also consider freezing your credit with Experian, TransUnion and Equifax so that no one can open any new credit accounts in your name. You can easily unfreeze your credit when you want to make changes.

Guard Your Personal Data

Part of protecting your identity is closely guarding your personal data. Do not give it out unless absolutely necessary, and then be sure that the company collecting it has safeguards in place to protect it. Also, make sure that your information does not fall into the wrong hands accidentally. Shred all personal papers before throwing them into the trash or the recycling bin. Collect your mail in a timely fashion, too, especially if you’re expecting financial documents.

Stay Safe Online

Like most people, you probably make plenty of financial transactions online, but you must ask yourself if you are taking necessary measures to keep your information and identity safe. You passwords are critical here. They should be strong and difficult to guess or discover accidentally. Use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols in an illogical order, and be careful not to use the same password too many times. You should also make sure that you have anti-virus software running on your devices if necessary, and confine your online shopping to well-known retailers and secure sites. Never enter your personal information into a site that does not have a secure connection.

Don’t Fall for Scams

Finally, be on the lookout for scams, and don’t fall for them. You probably get email scams all the time, but it’s easy to tell that these are not legitimate. Just hold your mouse over the sender’s name, and you’ll be able to see the sender’s email. It’ll probably look like gibberish, so you can delete the email without even opening it. Remember that legitimate companies will never ask for your personal information over email or in an unsolicited phone conversation.

While protecting your identity is not easy, you can make a solid effort by following these simple tips.

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