NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus are teaming up to bring you the 3rd Annual Protect Your Identity Week , October 17-23. They are aiming to raise awareness about identity theft, and help educate consumers about how to protect themselves from ID theft, and how to get help if your ID has been stolen.
Last year 11.1 million people became victims of ID theft, a 12.5 % increase over the previous year. Scary to think so many people have had their ID stolen, and what’s worse is they often don’t know right away which can cause $1000s in damage to your accounts.
Some ways that you put yourself “at risk” include writing a check, using a credit card, and using an ATM card. All things many of us do every day!
7 tips to Protect your ID
- Shred sensitive documents: Anything with your address, account info, or sensitive information should be shredded. If you don’t own a shredder seek out local, free shred events or find a clever way to get rid of that paperwork (perhaps a dirty diaper?).
- Be careful online: Look for the httpS when purchasing online. Never give out your account info online. If you get an email from your bank or credit card company, call them to make sure it’s legit.
- Check your statements:It goes without saying that you should check your statements from your bank(s) and credit cards monthly, but be sure you are on the lookout for odd charges. ID thieves usually start with several small purchases to make sure their theft worked.
- Check your mail: Be on the lookout for mail from bank’s or credit card companies you don’t have accounts with. ID theft of children is on the rise, so if you get something in the mail for Jimmy Jr, make sure to contact the company to find out how they got your child’s information. As tempting as it may be to pop a check in your mailbox, avoid leaving that info in your mailbox all day, and instead drop it at your local PO. (or better yet pay it online)
- Run your credit: Use your free credit reports! Make sure to spread them out throughout the year so you can monitor changes. You can even run a credit report for your kids.
- Change up your passwords: If you are still using your password from 1991, it’s time to change it up. Try using my tips for creating a secure and memorable password here.
- Wipe it: Before disposing of any cell phones, computers or other electronics that may hold sensitive information do a wipe. Most computers, cells, etc will have an easy to follow guide for wiping your data.