I recently renewed my membership in AARP and one of the things that I found there were a series of articles on protecting one’s identity. Having had a number of debit cards having had fraudulent charges against it, along with the federal government informing that my social security records may have been compromised in the past when the information about millions of account holders was stolen, had made me aware of how important this is to each of us!
I found the articles helpful in reminding me of some of the steps that we can each take to protect ourselves. These are some of the steps that were provided which you may wish to consider for your own protection.
One of the best ways people can protect themselves is fairly new to New Mexicans and that is implementing a security freeze.
A security freeze, which is placed on your account through the three credit reporting agencies, prevents anyone from opening a new account, such as financing a product, opening a bank account or new credit card, under a person’s name without that individual’s direct authorization. It does not affect existing accounts, Morrison said.
You can implement a security freeze, by sending a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experían, and TransUnion. The letter should include your social security number, date of birth, a copy of a government issued ID, and a proof of residency, such as a copy of a utility bill.
You will need to include with each letter a check or money order. There is a fee of $10 to implement the freeze, payable to each reporting agency. There is a cost of $5 to unfreeze an account. If you are age 65 or over, or have already been a victim of identity theft, there is no cost for the freeze.
You can learn more about implementing a credit freeze at Consumers Union
Here are some other things that you can do on a regular basis to help yourself to protect your identity:
If you don’t already own a shredder, you need buy a good one. You should consider one that shreds, as a minimum, paper documents into very small pieces of paper. This type of shredder is most often referred to as a cross-cut shreader. Additionally it is even better if the shredder can also handle the shredding of credit cards as well as CDROMS and DVD’s that may also contain sensitive and personal information. As a minimum you should shred any documents that contain Personally Identifiable Information such as home address, telephonumbers, social security account information, old financial records including, but not limited to: credit card information, banking information, payroll information, etc. Do NOT just throw any such documents into the trash or recycling for disposal without it being shredded!
You may also want to take some of the following steps to protect your identity as well:
- Cleaning out your car and wallet on a regular basis so you don’t leave important information, such as bank statements and receipts, inadvertently lying around.
- Don’t mail checks from home or leave them lying in a community box overnight – drop them off at the Post Office.
- Arrange for direct deposit of checks and automatic payment of regular bills.
- Store personal records in a safe place.
- Opt-out of unsolicited credit card offers.
- Never give out personal information to strangers. Most banks and other institutions you do business with will not telephone you and ask you for personal information, account numbers or your Social Security number.
- Never “verify” your information for someone claiming to be from a business unless you initiated the call yourself.
I hope that you have found this helpful! If you have, please do the following:
- Share this post with your friends so that they too can take any necessary steps to protect themselves!
- Leave a comment below telling me what you found most helpful!
- Ask me a question if you one and I will try to help you find the correct answer!
Make it a great day!
Larry A. Coates