8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
Bad: You lost your wallet. Worse: Someone else is racking up debt in your name. Good: You can prevent this!
148 million people (including me!) had their information stolen when Equifax, a major credit bureau that collects all your most sensitive and personal information (everything thieves would need to impersonate you), got hacked. But this wasn’t the first big hack, nor will it be the last.
Imagine that you’re working hard to save up for that car or house you’ve always wanted, or that business loan you so desperately need to take your business to the next level. Out of nowhere you start getting loan statements in the mail from banks you don’t have accounts at. It only gets worse as you are notified of purchases you haven’t made for various, expensive items. Or maybe you don’t get any notices and you only realize years later when you apply for that loan; your credit has gone from 800 to 100. What’s going on??
The concept of identity theft was once a far-fetched idea, but now has become a super-common crime. Over 8 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year alone, a crime amounting to over $45 billion.
Criminals are able to pretend to be you and make financial transactions (like opening credit cards, taking out loans, buying cars, etc.) using your identity and social security number. Criminals can get your info any of a number of ways, like hacking, spyware, or simply mailing in any of the pre-approved credit card offers sent to you unsolicited (more on that — see tip #3).
Think you can just get a credit monitoring and “protection” service to protect you? Think again. Those services charge a small fortune for what you can get for free, and they don’t prevent identity theft — they just let you know there’s a problem after the fact. #useless
There are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and prevent something like this from happening to you. The steps are surprisingly easy and better than the alternative of spending months dealing with the banks and credit bureaus to untangle your credit and debt issues. Read on: