I keep meeting more and more clients who have been affected by identity theft.

So before you head out of town this summer put on an extra-layer of protection not just for your skin but for your personal and financial identification.

BEFORE MEASURES

  1. Be Private Not Social – Do not share any personal information such as your address, phone numbers, social security number, birth date or birth place on social networks. And beware of email scams, especially when they ask for personal information via email. Do not give it out.
  2. Shred It – Keep a shredder wherever you go through papers in your home such as bills, receipts, junk mail, computer printouts and destroy all documents that you do not need, especially if they contain any personal information.
  3. Don’t Skimp On Your Passwords – Ensure you utilize strong passwords changing them periodically. If you can, use 12 characters with a combo of numbers, capital letters and symbols. You can even make them memorable and goofy like: ofcorziamJMH.
  4. Don’t Leave Your Mailbox Unattended – Especially during vacation time. Request a hold from the USPS or ask a trusted neighbor to collect it for you.
  5. Look It Over – I know everyone is pressed for time but don’t forget to look over your bank and credit card statements. Be aware of activity that you didn’t take.

AFTER MEASURES

If someone was able to steal your identity, act swiftly and here’s what to do:

  • Go right to the three credit reporting companies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and place a fraud alert on your account. They are active for 90 days; after that, you will have to reactivate the alert if you still feel it is necessary.
  • File a local police report.
  • File an Identity Theft Report on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
  • Contact your bank, credit card companies and loan companies to place a fraud alert on your account or close your existing accounts.

TIP – While packing for a summer trip, copy everything in your wallet both front and back. This way if you lose your purse or someone snatches your wallet you will know who to call for replacements and cancellations as in the “After Measures” protection above.

Did You Know? – If a thief gets your pocketbook you should change the locks on your home to be on the safe side because he can get your address from your identification.