Tips: Secure Your Identity

Shoulder surfing, dumpster diving and phishing, actions performed by criminals that invade, violate and steal a person's identity. Each year millions of consumers have their identities stolen. The result is time consuming and costly; on average victims spend close to 30 hours and up to $500 cleaning up their personal information after a theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

There are several actions you can follow to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Following the recommendations below, courtesy of Universal Protection Service, is the first step to taking a proactive approach to securing your identity.

  • Review bank and credit card statements monthly.
  • Shred any documents that contain personal information including your home address, phone numbers, birthdates and credit card and bank numbers.
  • Protect your laptop with a unique code and/or password.
  • Monitor your credit report quarterly.
  • Avoid leaving mail in the mailbox. If you will be gone for an extended period of time have mail delivery stopped or ask a neighbor to retrieve it for you daily.
  • Stay alert on the phone. Never give out your social security number or banking information.
  • Memorize personal passwords and change often.

However, if the unfortunate does happen and your identity is stolen it is important to react quickly.

  • Immediately contact the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, and ask each company to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
  • Notify your credit card companies and banks by phone and in writing.
  • File a complaint with the FTC and contact the local police department.
  • Make copies of all your documents and keep a record of your actions while you regain your identity.

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