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Protect Your Financial Identity

Identity theft is a growing problem. You should consider taking a few steps in order to protect your identity when you shop online or even in person.

I personally have had some things happen in the past happen to me where little pieces of my personal information were stolen, and yet a world of damage was done. Even the smallest amount of information can be a gold mine to someone who knows what they are doing with it.

Thankfully, none of the damage that was created by this horrible stranger was long lasting, but it still was a pain to deal with. It is better just to avoid the whole problem of stolen financial identity than to have someone steal your information and possibly create a problem where you have to pay for the problems that a complete stranger has created.

Protect Your Financial IdentityHere are some of the things you might want to try doing so that you can protect your financial identity:

  • When you shop online, try to use a unique and unusual password for each site where you shop. That way if your password does somehow get leaked at least the damage can be limited to just one website rather than many.
  • When creating your password, don’t opt for the easiest. Use caps, symbols, numbers and a good variety.
  • Check for security measures from the websites for all online transactions. This especially applies to banking.
  • Review your credit card and banking statements as soon as you receive them.
  • Sign up for an alert to your email or phone for any transaction that exceeds a certain dollar amount.
  • Credit cards are typically safer than debit cards. If there is a problem your liability can be more limited.
  • If you receive notification of a data breach, review it carefully and call the numbers given for further information on what you should do next.
  • If your Social Security number is at risk, place a fraud alert with all three of the major credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax Experian. Keep in mind that it will expire in three months so renew it at that time if necessary.
  • Use a website like Mint.com to keep track of your financials.
  • If you suspect that your information and identity is already at risk, request a freeze from the credit bureaus, which will prevent any new accounts from being opened.

Do you make an active effort to protect your financial identity? Why or why not? Has anything ever happened to you?

 

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