Identity Theft Protection Tips
Identity theft is a growing problem that can affect anyone. Consider these startling facts from the 2017 Identity Fraud Study:
- In 2016, $16 billion dollars was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers
- Missouri was the state with the most complaints with 22,164in 2015
- The top form of Identity Theft was Government documents or benefits fraud accounting for 49.2% of fraudulent cases
Seven Steps to Reduce Your Risk
Now for more bad news. There’s no way to guarantee 100% protection from identity thieves. But you can greatly reduce your risk if you take these important steps:
- Safeguard Your Personal Financial Information at Home.
Make sure never to leave personal financial information (such as credit card receipts and bank statements) lying around the house. Even if you think your home is secure, there’s always a chance that a service worker or a guest you’d never suspect could steal your information, if they had the motive and were given the opportunity.
- Verify information security procedures at work.
Talk to your employer and make sure that they have taken steps to maintain the confidentiality of employee information.
- Don’t disclose personal information.
Identity thieves use the phone, the internet, and US mail to get you to disclose personal information. Don’t share this information unless you can verify that the person requesting the information is who they say they are.
- Have your mail delivered to a PO Box.
This may seem like a radical idea, but identity thieves routinely canvas mailboxes for personal information when they know the homeowner isn’t home. If a PO Box is not practical, get in the habit of picking up your mail as soon as it’s delivered.
- Opt out of credit card offers.
Most of us are inundated with credit card offers. But even if we routinely shred these offers to protect ourselves we are still vulnerable to identity thieves stealing these offers and applying for cards in our name, if they can intercept the offer before it gets to us. But now you can protect yourself by “opting out” of credit card offers, by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
- Order a copy of your credit report.
A bad credit report listing accounts you never opened and delinquent charges you never made is the best indicator that a thief has stolen your identity. Now you can get one free credit report per year from one of the three major credit bureaus. Or for about $7 to $12 a month, you can buy a protection plan from one of the major credit bureaus, in which they give you daily or weekly notification of any changes in your credit report.
- Use Professional Services.
Lincoln Archives not only offers secure destruction and storage services to protect physical documents but also offers comprehensive Identity Theft Protection Services available through Kroll and LegalShield to ensure information is protected in all realms.
Lincoln Archives is the ONLY Family Owned, LOCAL (WNY) Company that provides NAID AAA Certified SECURE DOCUMENT SHREDDING. Lincoln Archives is a proud member of Lincoln Family of Companies serving the Buffalo community since 1914.
by Kathryn Turner