If identity theft hasn't happened to you, chances are that it has happened to someone you know. The stress of dealing with identity theft is significant as you try to get back your money, credit rating, and mental and emotional well-being.
Reduce your risk of identity theft by actively protecting your identity.
- Store personal information such as your social security number, in a safe place.
- Do not share your personal information unnecessarily.
- Collect your mail every day or place a hold if you will be away.
- Review your bank and credit card statements regularly. Follow up on any unfamiliar charges immediately.
- Don't use public wi-fi for personal information.
- Don't mail checks or credit card payments from an accessible mailbox.
Pay attention to warning signs that your identity has been compromised.
- Check your credit report regularly (at least 3 times a year) to make sure no new accounts have been opened in your name.
- Pay attention to missing mail that you expected, especially if it would have personal information (tax returns, tax statements, etc).
- Denial of expected loan or credit.
- Bills or debt calls for accounts you didn't open.
- Unexpected downward trend on your credit score.
Prevent identity theft as much as possible but be aware that even the best prevention is not a guarantee. The earlier you report identity theft the easier it will be to stop it and repair the damage.
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