There is something somewhat terrifying when you consider the concept of identity theft. Someone has taken away your sense of self. They’ve taken your individuality. What can be even scarier is that they have taken away your financial identity.
People who commit identity theft can destroy a person’s life. Oftentimes, the actions they take can completely destroy a person’s credit for many years to come. In addition, they can often commit crimes which lead to legal wrangles that can be incredibly difficult to sort out and haunt a person for many years in the future.
Thankfully, it’s possible to protect yourself from identity theft. Knowing the consequences can be a good motivator for people who haven’t taken the steps to ensure that they are not a target of identity theft.
What Can A Person Do For Themselves
A person who is dealing with potential identity theft can take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. Typically, once it’s occured, it’s more about reporting it to the authorities and letting the right people work to repair things with your assistance.
Preventing identity theft is all about being safe with your sensitive information. There are many steps that a person can take to ensure that their information remains safe. Some of this takes place online and some of it is in the real world. Here are some steps to take:
- Protect Your Paper Trail - Many people are not as careful as they should be with things like credit card statements or other financial documents. Always shred them when possible. If you use an ATM and get a receipt from it, be sure to keep it with you until you can shred it to destroy it properly.
- Credit Card Protection - This occurs both online and in person. The first job is to obviously be very careful with the physical cards. As long as they are in your possession, that’s a good sign. The second step is being careful with the number. Where you shop online matters. Only use verified websites that are using proper security protocols. If it seems like your computer is acting oddly, scan for viruses regularly to ensure there is nothing that might be trying to steal your information as you enter it. Check statements and ensure there are no purchases made that weren’t made by you. If there are, immediately call the company to report the charges and get a hold on the card.
- Keep Your Social Security Number Safe - This is one of the main goals of identity thieves. This number is crucial to your identity. Don’t keep your card on you.
- Watch Your Credit Report - Just like with credit card statements, it’s key to keep abreast of your own credit report to look for any actions that aren’t expected.
There are a variety of ways in which professional services can assist a person in the fight against identity theft. The first is through credit monitoring and alerts. People are able to sign up with various companies (mostly run by credit report companies) which will immediately alert people to changes in their credit report that are suspicious. They will also watch credit card purchases in the same way.
The other way professional companies can assist with identity theft is after the fact. Unravelling the labyrinth of paperwork that can be created is no small feat. Identity theft recovery may require months or even years. Having a proven team on a person’s side will save a lot of time and avoid complications that aren’t necessary.