I was at a meeting at my local church this week and was chatting it up with some members before the meeting started. One of them commented that they “don’t understand half of the items” I post on my blog. That’s a fair statement as my blog is designed to reach a variety of people at a variety levels of internet knowledge. It got me to thinking, however, about how clear my message is about protecting yourself from identify theft. After all that is the whole point of me maintaining this blog and the “nerdy” work I do on the side.
So I decided to make sure I had one blog entry that was very succinct and to the point on what you need to do now in order to protect yourself from identity theft. Not later this week, not next week, not next month – NOW. Take some time today and do these three things:
- Run your credit reports and make sure everything is correct. There are numerous sites where you can do this and several of them are listed here in my page on ID Theft Help. Look to make sure your accounts are all ones you recognize. You will probably find some old accounts on there that are listed as “open” but you have not used for years. Consider calling the credit card provider and cancelling them or at least make sure the information they have on you is up to date. Remember that checking your credit report has absolutely NO impact on your credit.
- Sign up for a monitoring service. You should be checking your credit report and monitoring it just like your bank statement. The three major credit bureaus all have monitoring services that alert you via email or text of any inquiries or changes to your credit information from any source. This is a huge advantage should a thief start trying to open credit in your name and it is the only reason I was able to stop the thief that stole my identity before real damage could be done. These services costs anywhere from $20-30 a month, but you should bite the bullet and pay it just like you pay your phone or electricity bill. It’s a necessity in today’s world. If you are not willing to pay for a monitoring service then consider “freezing” your credit report with all 3 bureaus. This will block anyone and everyone from accessing your credit reports until you remove the freeze. There will be a one time fee of around $10-15 for each.
- Get a virus scanner for your computer (or update the one you have). One of the key ways a hacker can find out personal information about you is to contaminate your computer with a virus. It is amazing what these things can do and the information they can capture. If you don’t have up to date virus protection on your computer then be sure to never, ever to log into your bank, email, or any other medium that could cause you to type in or look at your personal data (pretty limiting, isn’t it?). If your computer is compromised you won’t know without a virus scanner and your identity can be stolen very easily.
Protect yourself. Do these three things right now which will help you not become a victim. Ignorance is not going to help you in the cyber world.
Helpful links for you to accomplish these three items are located above on the page marked “ID Theft Help”.
Categories: ID Theft