How to Prevent Identity Fraud
A Quick Guide to Protecting Your Identity
Identity fraud is a growing problem worldwide as we become more dependent on technology, but you can prevent it by being vigilant and proactive. It is becoming easier for hackers and fraudster to assume your identity and do grave damage to your credit and financial standing. Effective identity fraud prevention can protect your reputation and your finances from identity theft.
Much of the work in identity fraud prevention depends on taking steps to guard your own financial information, and monitor your own situation to spot any discrepancies. There are several effective steps that can be taken to prevent your identity from being stolen. In addition, by being quick to respond if your identity has been stolen, you can minimize the damage.
How to Keep Your Information From Being Stolen
The first step is carefully protecting your own financial information. You should always take great caution with anything that contains your Social Security number or other personal identifying information. This includes keeping this information in a secured place. It also includes destroying any unnecessary documents that contain this information to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.
You should pay attention to your incoming mail since that is a perfect opportunity for fraudsters to steal your personal information. Use a shredder when you can to destroy any unnecessary documents. In addition, you should be careful with what you throw out in the garbage because once a document leaves your hands, anyone can access it.
How to Protect Your Credit
There are proactive steps that you can take to protect your identity by being vigilant ahead of time. You should continuously take advantage of your ability to receive one free credit report from each of the major bureaus on an annual basis. Preferably, you should space these out so you can receive one free credit report every four months. When you receive the credit report, you should closely scrutinize the report for anything that looks amiss, and do not hesitate to challenge anything that appears to be the result of identity fraud.
Actions to Take
If anything appears remotely wrong, you should take quick and decisive action. You can help prevent identity theft before it even happens by placing a security freeze on your credit reports. This will prevent anyone from viewing your reports without your permission. In other words, fraudsters cannot take out credit in your name if you have not given permission for your credit to be viewed since that is a requirement to extend credit. You can also hire one of the many different services that can help you lock down your identity and prevent theft. While you can take all of these steps on your own, sometimes experts can help you with these steps more quickly and efficiently.
If you think that you have been the victim of identity theft, the first thing you should do is place a fraud alert on your credit. You should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the identity theft. In addition, you will need a police report to help document that the theft occurred so you should contact the police as well. If there have been any debts incurred in your name, you should immediately contact the creditors to address the situation.
It is only by being smart and active that you can fully protect your identity and prevent identity fraud from occurring.