3 Things You Can Do to Prevent Identity Theft

3 Things You Can Do to Prevent Identity Theft

(Daily360.com) – Americans lost a combined $5.8 billion to identity theft in 2021 alone. Crimes involving this specific transgression began surging in 2020 and continue to do so even now. Knowing how to protect yourself from becoming a statistic is more important than ever. Stop would-be thieves in their tracks with these essential tips.

Review Credit Reports

Monitoring your credit is essential, but it’s about much more than tracking how you use accounts. Looking at reports regularly can alert you to fraudulent activity you might otherwise miss, letting you take action on it faster. If you spot a problem, contact each of the three major credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) and dispute the accounts. Ask them to place a freeze on your account to prevent further issues.

Check Your Mail Daily

Forgetting to check the mail can be a surprisingly grave mistake. Would-be identity thieves can pilfer mail to obtain personal information. They may use that data to steal your identity, opening new accounts in your name. Checking it daily can help lower the risk of fraudsters finding what they need.

Review Financial Statements

Be sure to read all credit card and bank statements — and ensure you recognize every single transaction. Failing to report issues to your bank can render you responsible for any associated costs. Conversely, if you tell your provider right away, they can investigate on your behalf. Some banks even absolve customers of responsibility after they report issues.

Note that a fraudulent transaction on a credit card isn’t as serious as one on a bank statement. Credit card companies won’t charge the money to your account, whereas a bank has to initiate a longer-term investigation and eventually issue a refund. That process can take some time, significantly impacting a tight budget.

Identity theft can happen to anyone — even children. Be on the lookout for fraudulent accounts and charges in kids’ names too. Not only will it save you a headache, but it will also save your financial health. If you have questions about identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission. Report possible crimes on their website or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.

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