Around 15 million people in the US have their identities stolen and used fraudulently each year resulting in over $16 billion stolen. This means that there is a new identity fraud victim every few seconds.
What's worse is that it takes the average victim an estimated $500 and at least 30 hours to resolve each theft crime. Becoming a victim of identity theft can be an extremely costly and time-consuming burden on anyone's life.
Some of the common forms of identity theft that you should be aware of include:
- Opening or using a credit card account under someone else's name
- Opening utility or telecommunications accounts fraudulently
- Opening a bank account in someone else's name or passing bad checks with someone else's information
- Using someone else's name for employment
- Taking out loans under someone else's name
Identity theft messes up your credit, reputation and can also have a serious negative impact on your finances. Since everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft (even your children), it's best to consider effective ways to prevent it from happening to you or your loved one.
Start Keeping Better Track of your Personal Information
If you want to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, there are plenty of things you can do and they all involve becoming more alert and conscious of updates to your personal information and who you share it with.
Check your Credit Report - While your credit report is an excellent tool to help you track your credit score, it can also let you know if your credit is being used by someone else. If someone were to try to apply for credit in your name or take out a loan fraudulently while pretending to be you, this information should show up on your report.
Store Important Information in a Safe Place - Be cautious about where you place certain items like your social security card, bank account numbers, and pin numbers. This information should never be stored in your wallet.
Avoid Shopping at Questionable Retailers - Some credit card readers can get hacked or be set up to steal your information. This is why it's important to avoid retailers that seem questionable or who have had security issues in the past.
Shred Documents You No Longer Need - If you don't need important documents that have your personal information on them, make sure you shred them and scatter the pieces when you throw them away so no one else can obtain them.
You Can Only Do So Much to Protect Yourself
Protecting your identity on your own can require a lot of work, effort, and organization. Yet and still, the efforts you make won't guarantee that you will not become a victim of identity theft.
The best way to prevent yourself from having to deal with the costly effects of identity theft is to enroll in an identity theft protection service with a reputable provider. Identity theft companies can increase your level of protection by offering 24/7 credit and fraud monitoring services. Our comparison page on identity theft protection companies will help you to select the best option for you and your circumstances.
Most companies also take a very hands-on approach by offering additional benefits like initiating alerts to the three major credit bureaus if any suspicions arise, protecting your personal information when you surf the internet or shop online, and providing lost wallet protection and identity theft insurance.
To have access to all of these benefits and services, leading providers charge anywhere from a $10 to $30 monthly subscription, which is a small investment to pay for the peace of mind professional identity theft protection can supply.
To ensure the safety of your identity, be sure to find an identity theft protection service today!