Big stories about identity theft are becoming more and more common. We hear about them in the news happening to large banks, credit bureaus, even health insurers. No matter how hard companies work to secure your information, thieves and scammers are working just as hard to breach security so they can access your identity.

In fact, hundreds of millions of Americans have had their data compromised, and estimates say as many as 15 million people deal with the fallout of identity theft each year. So how can you be sure you don’t become part of this statistic?

Here are some ideas.

  • Refuse to provide your social security number except in cases when it’s absolutely necessary. Offer your driver’s license number instead, or other identifying information. If you must provide your social security number, keep track of any time you release it, so you know who’s had access.
  • Ask every bank, credit card company, healthcare provider, etc. you work with about their security efforts to protect your data. Not only will that help you decide if they’re strict enough for your comfort, it also shows them you’re aware of the problem and demand reliable solutions.
  • Call all three major credit bureaus and ask them to put a freeze on your credit file. This will prevent any new credit being opened in your name without your distinct permission on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Consider a credit monitoring service like Lifelock or Credit Karma.
  • Shred all personal documents and request that any service providers do the same. If you don’t have access to a shredder, let us know. Many local companies hold free shredding events and we may be able to help you find one.

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with the aftermath of a data breach or identity theft, but these tips can help you limit the damage if you do. If you’re interested in other ways to manage risk in your finances, let’s connect. We can work through best practices to help protect you and your family.

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