You may have great credit now but will you have great credit tomorrow? Sometimes, your credit score can take a dive because of the actions of someone else. You typically won’t know about your bad credit until you apply for a loan. So what can cause your credit to drop so much, so fast? It’s not because of a missed payment or two, it’s because someone has run amuck on your credit without permission by stealing your identity.
The problem of identity theft is on the rise and it will continue to rise unless you do something about it. Statistics state that between 8 and 10 million people are affected by identity theft each year. Will you be next? If you follow the five steps in this post you will help protect yourself against identity theft.
1. Check your credit
Check your credit regularly. You can do this once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. If you want to be protected further, you can subscribe to certain websites that send you email updates whenever new items post to your report. You see, it’s very difficult to protect your identity. But it’s far easier to shut the criminals down as soon as one new account is opened.
2. Shred important financial documents
If you no longer need a document do not just throw it in the trash. You should shred it because it could have vital information that people can read. It is not uncommon for thieves to go digging through trash looking for these things. If it has your name, address, social security and/or birthdate, destroy it.
3. Use online banking
Rather than waiting for your paper statement keep tabs on your bank account online. There’s no need for your bank to mail you a statement every month. Not only is it a waste of paper, but it’s an opportunity for thieves to steal your mail and get your banking information. When you use online banking, you can check your account 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just make sure to use a good password.
4. Password protection
On your online accounts, whether credit cards, banks or utility companies, use unique passwords. Often times people choose passwords that are easy to remember. But those passwords are also easy to guess. Do not use birthdays or anything that could be easy to figure out. The best passwords have letters, numbers and special symbols like dollar signs, asterisks and percents.
5. Watch for spam
So you get an email from your bank asking you for some information. But before you click make sure it’s not what’s called “phishing”. Thieves will pretend to be your bank and send you emails hoping you fall for their scam. Their website will look exactly like the banks’ website. The only difference is that when you hit submit your information is transmitted to the thieves and not your bank.
If you use these 5 tips it will go a long way to protecting yourself against identity theft. By being proactive about your identity you’ll be able to maintain a good credit score both today and in the future.