Steps to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime that can have devastating effects on a person's financial life. Because of the varied ways identity theft can impact the life of a victim, it's important for anyone wishing to prevent this crime to take steps to prevent identity theft.
Here's a look at what the Federal Trade Commission, a government consumer protection bureau, recommends to prevent identity theft.
The FTC's Recommended Steps for Identity Theft Prevention
Part of identity theft prevention is recognizing that identity theft is a serious crime that can have serious consequences (including personal bankruptcy for some consumers). Those who wish to avoid being victimized by this crime can take the following steps:
- Shred important documents. Investing in a home shredder is a good way to prevent identity thieves from finding sensitive data in discarded mail and medical records. Any bank statements, medical information or other paperwork that contains identifying personal data should be shredded before it's discarded.
- Guard your Social Security Number. In many cases, companies that ask for an SSN can easily use another form of identification. Consumers should always ask if they can provide an alternative to their SSN.
- Verify digital and phone identities. Many scams work by convincing unsuspecting people to provide sensitive information over the phone, via email or through a text message. In order to prevent this information from getting into the wrong hands, it's a good idea to verify communications by calling the company or individual in question.
- Monitor your credit. The web site AnnualCreditReport.com offers free yearly credit reports from each major reporting agency to all Americans. If an identity is stolen, evidence usually shows up in a credit report before it shows up anywhere else. Regular checks of the credit report may allow a person to detect any identity theft activity before it causes too much damage.
Fighting against Identity Theft
If you have already been victimized by identity theft, you may want to take legal action. You can begin that process by meeting with a lawyer near you for a free legal consultation. To get in touch with a lawyer, simply fill out this form.