There are many people who would rather work hard stealing your identity than creating a legitimate one for themselves. Guard yourself from them with these five secrets to protecting your identity.
Check You Credit Regularly
First and foremost, request a free copy of your credit report from the three main sources every year: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Your credit report will show you all open lines of credit in your name, what the balances are for each, as well as number how many are current (meaning you’re keeping up with promised payments) and how many are delinquent (meaning that you have outstanding balances you haven’t paid).
It will also help you take a look at your account history. How well have you been able to pay off your debts in the agreed amount of time? This can help you find issues in your credit that you may or may not have been aware of. Hint: this is a good way to find out if there are any fraudulent credit marks on your name.
Finally, you can find out which creditors are making inquiries on you. You can find the name of the creditor and the date of inquiry to review who’s been taking a look at your credit.
The process is simple, easy, and the reports are even easier to review. Make this a habit for the years to come.
Second, set a long password, make it different for different places to login, and change it often. A password 20 characters in length can be considered just as secure as one 8 characters in length but includes capital letters, numbers, and symbols. They’re also often easier to remember. “Myfirstdogsnameissally” is twenty-two characters long. Breaking that code will take an unnecessary amount of time and you can remember your passwords for once.
Make different passwords for different logins. You can have one junk password for junky logins, but for most of the accounts that directly reflect on you/access your accounts; you’ll want to make them different. That way if someone were to get a hold of your password, they wouldn’t be able to hijack your life.
Change the password often. Every 2 to 5 months is generally advisable. That’s long enough to get good use out of it, but short enough that you can keep others guessing.
Don’t Share Your Information
Third, don’t give your information out so freely. Guard personal identity information closely. Don’t give out private numbers to just anyone. If a legitimate agency is asking for your credit card info, social security information, account number, or any of those things, first identify why they need it, and if they’re a legitimate requester.
Why would any company need your social security number? The only ones that should ask for that information are your employer and select members of the government. Does a retail store need it? How about a shady collection agency that claims you owe them money? Likely not.
The more legitimate requesters will have an obvious reason to need it. If you don’t trust them, give the Social Security Administration a call and ask them what this company would need the number for.
To check if you’re putting the information into the right hands you can ask the SSA to look into it for you. If they show up legitimate, make double sure you’re giving it to the right people. On the internet, this means that you double check the URL.
There have been several bogus IRS sites created to imitate the IRS. You can tell the imposters because only the IRS has control over www.irs.gov/. If that is the opening of your URL address, then you’ll know you’re on the right site. The same applies for any work related inquiry you might have to fill. Make sure that’s the right company website you’re currently asked to fill out info on. A legitimate source shouldn’t ask you to fill in a SSN on an online form, but just in case they do, these are the steps you should take.
Keep Your Information Private
Fourth, be private about your personal information. This includes purchasing things over the internet. Protect all of your information. You never know what a thief could do with something as simple and small as a login and password or a bank account number. There are many ways to try and cheat the system. The best way to avoid falling victim is by privacy.
Hide Your Wallet
Fifth and finally, hide your wallet and financial information. Lock them away somewhere no one can get to. Although you can certainly catch thieves, it’s not worth the hassle and fear of losing a lot in the meantime.
These are five great ways to protect your identity. Guard it carefully and you won’t become one of those stories.