Across the country, identity theft is becoming an increasingly frequent crime, especially near the end of the tax year. It’s vital that individuals take the appropriate measures to protect themselves from such a damaging situation. Identity theft can have a considerable impact on your life, including your personal finances and ability to take out credit in the future.
To assist you with making smart decisions to safeguard your identity, we have put together a list of six tips to protect yourself from identity theft.
1. Protect your sensitive information from third parties
Your private information is sensitive, and if it gets into the hands of an unauthorized third party, you could be faced with serious repercussions, including identity theft. A number of actions can be taken to protect your personal details from coming into contact with the wrong individuals, including:
- Shred or tear up paper documents that contain sensitive details.
- Lock away sensitive materials.
- Make sure your employer has secured your personnel records.
- Always take receipts containing credit or debit card details—never dispose of them in public trash.
- Don’t post personal information online, e.g. putting your birthdate on social media websites.
- Only use websites that have secure payment methods. A site is only secure when there is an unbroken padlock icon in the URL bar of your browser, and the URL starts with “https.” If the URL begins with “http,” it is not secure.
2. Don’t share your social security number
Never share your social security number with anyone unless absolutely required, and never carry it on yourself. Always make sure it’s locked away somewhere secure.
3. Order a free credit report each week
To help protect your personal finances and to ensure you have not been a victim of identity theft, regularly check your credit reports.
Through December 2022, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three nationwide credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By checking your credit reports, you’ll be able to see if someone is misusing your personal information to run up charges on your credit cards, take out new credit or open a new account that’s in your name and steal your identity. The sooner you spot this fraud, the faster you can take action to stop the financial harm and correct the errors.
To order a free credit report, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 directly.
4. Ensure that you read your credit reports very carefully
Once you have received your credit reports, take the time to carefully look back through the report, making sure that everything recorded points back to you and not someone misusing your identity.
Each time you look at your credit report, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you recognize the accounts on your report?
- Do they list credit applications?
- Did you apply for credit at those places?
Make sure to check your personal information too. Are your name, address, and Social Security number correct?
5. Dispute any anomalies
If you see a mistake on your credit report, it’s incredibly paramount that you immediately dispute the mistake. You can do this by directly contacting the credit bureau and the business that reported the information. When contacting the credit bureau and the business, ensure that you ask both to correct their records. You need to ensure that you include as much detail as possible, plus copies of supporting evidence, including documents, like payment records.
6. Report the suspected identity theft to the appropriate authorities
If you don’t recognize an account recorded on your credit report, immediately visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and obtain a recovery plan.
IdentityTheft.gov will be able to help you to create a sworn Identity Theft Report. Once a report has been created, you can send it to the credit bureaus, who will be able to block identity theft-related debts from appearing on your credit report. Also, report the theft of your identity to the FBI and the IRS.
Contact Morgan & Morgan
If you think your identity has been stolen, it’s crucial to approach guidance from an identity theft lawyer who can provide clear, efficient advice on your rights and the necessary steps to take.
Contact us at Morgan & Morgan to speak to an expert attorney.