Since you can’t protect yourself 100% from identity theft, make sure that you Monitor the Signs! Heading into a new year people make many resolutions that they may or make not stick with, but protecting your identity should always be a top priority. Here are 3 effective tips to help discover and recover quickly if you become the victim of identity theft:
- Create a Dossier – A dossier is a collection of documents that are stored in a fire-safe and that you regularly review and update. It is a paper summary of your identity as the outside world sees it (businesses, organizations and governments). It is made up of several key documents: your credit report, bank and credit card statements, Social Security statement, wallet photocopies and your password list. Virtually any of your vital documents could be included in your dossier as well (birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.). A dossier is a place where you can quickly access a complete record of your vital information in case your identity is stolen and you will have the necessary account and phone numbers at hand to cancel credit cards, bank accounts and to file credit disputes. And you can do it quickly.
- Order and Monitor Your Credit Report and Set up regular calendar reminders every 4 months for your next Credit Report. A credit report is a historical record of how you pay off money you borrow from others. There are currently three main credit bureaus in the United States—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit bureaus track your credit history, generate credit scores and produce credit reports—all for sale to other businesses. If you own a home, have a credit card, lease a car, or apply for or use credit of any sort, this information is reported to one, two or all three of these credit bureaus. In addition, they collect information on how timely you pay your bills, how often you are tardy, how frequently your credit is checked by companies and any changes of address, employment, or personal information. By monitoring these reports closely, you will know when someone else is using your credit file to their benefit. If an identity thief opens a new credit card or loan on your Social Security number, you will see it on your report. The quicker you spot the problem, the less trouble it will cause. You can also sign up for an Identity Monitoring Service and Identity Theft Insurance.
- Set up Account Alerts bank, credit card and investment accounts and make sure you check your monthly statements for any suspicious activity. Account alerts automatically notify you by email or text message (to your cell phone) when a transaction is made on your account. For example, if you make a purchase on your credit card, it will automatically send you an alert detailing how much was spent, where you spent it, and on what date. They will also alert you when a payment is due or is not received on time or when private information is changed on the account (often a sign of fraud). Alerts are a simple way to keep track of credit card usage, bank transfers, low account balances, investment moves and a handful of other helpful tasks without doing any extra work.
These 3 simple changes make a world of difference when it comes to protecting your Identity. Early detection will save you time and money in the long run. Make it a priority to protect your identity in 2010 for a safe, successful and headache free year!
John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.