According to the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Awareness site, the three most important steps to avoid identity theft are to Deter, Detect and Defend.
Deter Identity Theft
The first step and most effective way to avoid identity theft is to be extremely careful with your personal and financial information. Here are some tips:
· Store your financial data in a safe.
· Don't carry around your Social Security Card.
· Shred all financial and personal documents when not needed anymore.
· Frequently change your computer passwords.
Detect Identity Theft
The next step is to realize when identity theft has occurred. The faster you discover it, the easier it is to resolve the situation and limit the damage that it causes.
· Monitor your own credit reports using your one free report per year.
· Hire an identity theft protection company to monitor your credit reports.
· Look out for unexpected bills for items you did not purchase.
· No longer receiving bills you normally get on a regular basis
· Denial of credit when normally qualified.
You should make it a habit to review your financial statements on a monthly basis and getting your free credit reports.
Defend Against Identity Theft
If you notice any of the signs listed above, don't wait! Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and contact the individual credit card that you saw unusual activity on. Then do the following:
· Review your credit reports carefully
· Close any accounts you think have been tampered with.
· File a police report where the theft occurred. Most creditors need proof that a crime was committed.
You can also place a credit freeze which will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name. This will not stop them from using accounts which have already been opened, which is why it is important to close any account that has been tampered with.
Contact us online
or call the Law Offices of Jacoby & Jacoby at 631-289-4600 to schedule a FREE consultation and we can go over your individual situation and discuss all of the options available to you.