As we move away from a cash based system and rely more on plastic the crime of identity theft has seen a remarkable increase. Having your identity stolen can wreak havoc on your credit score. It can leave stains that take years to clean up. Often times you do not even know you are the victim of identity theft until you begin to receive collection calls or you go to apply for a loan.
So how can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft? Follow these simple steps.
You are entitled to check your credit report once every twelve months at annualcreditreport.com. Once you obtain your report verify that all of your debts listed are indeed yours. The benefit of doing this is not just to protect yourself from identity theft, but to keep a healthy credit score as well.
When you throw away your bank statements, credit card statements or utility bills, make sure and shred your personal information. While these bills typically are not supposed to include private information such as date of birth or social security numbers, they sometimes do. One way criminals get your information is to go through garbage hunting for financial documents.
Be careful who you give your information to. You should keep the list of companies you give your information to at a minimum. Every time you give your details out you are depending on that company to safeguard it. You are relying on them to protect your info from hackers. You are depending on their employees (who have access to your data) to not share it. And you are entrusting them not to sell your information to others for profit.