identity theft ruined

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Each year, millions of people are horrified when they realize that their identity has been compromised. Whether it’s due to their own failure to take preventative measures or the machinations of a sophisticated identity thief, the results can be disastrous. Within weeks, having your identity stolen can lead to financial ruin and even criminal fraud charges. But, there are steps that you can take to prevent this from happening. Often, they’re simple and easy to implement. Below, you’ll discover 5 actions you can take immediately to prevent becoming a victim to identity theft.

#1 – Shred Your Records

While most people fear their vulnerability online, many identity thieves still rely on the proven strategy of “dumpster diving.” They understand that consumers regularly throw away credit card statements, bank statements and other documents that contain sensitive personal information. If you’re going to throw these types of documents in the trash, shred them before doing so. You can purchase a home shredder at most office supply stores for under $50.

#2 – Watch Your Mailbox

Your mailbox is another potential treasure trove for identity thieves. Your bills, bank statements and offers for new credit card accounts can be found there. First, collect your mail as quickly as possible once it’s delivered. Second, don’t mail credit card bills and checks by leaving them in your mailbox for your postal carrier. Mail them securely from the post office.

#3 – Watch Your Credit Report

While most consumers neglect to check their credit report, you should be doing so at least annually. Often, identity thieves will open credit accounts in your name by using your social security number. They do it without your realizing it. This is especially true if the statements for those accounts are mailed to another address. By reviewing your credit report, you’ll be able to identity accounts that were opened without your authorization.

#4 – Examine Your Statements

When you visit a store or restaurant and use your credit card, there’s always the possibility that the person taking your card will use it without your authorization. You should be reviewing your credit card statements when you receive them in the mail or by accessing them online. If you notice any strange charges, you can call your credit card company to have them reversed. Then, you can take steps to close the account and have them issue you a new card.

#5 – Use A Dependable Protective Service

Many consumers find the tasks of monitoring their credit report, destroying documents and having their name removed from credit card offer lists to be time-intensive. For them, hiring an identity protective service such as LifeLock can be a low-cost, highly-effective solution. For a few dollars each month, they’ll effectively monitor the status of your identity.

Identity Protection Is In Your Hands

Having your identity stolen can be a devastating experience. Unfortunately, most people neglect to take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening. Instead, they react only after becoming victims to identity thieves. But, there’s plenty you can do to prevent your identity from being stolen. Use the tips above to protect your personal information. If you lead an active life and have little time available, consider hiring a service like LifeLock. They’ll manage many of the details for you and help ensure that your identity remains safe.

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