Identity theft is a heinous crime that victimizes more than 11 million people each year. The crime includes stealing a person’s personal information to open new accounts, misusing existing accounts, and using personal information for alternative malicious purposes. Identity theft can ruin a person’s reputation with credit bureaus and other organizations, and it can take that person many years to resolve the mess. The following are some tips for preventing and dealing with identity theft:
Do Not Share PIN Numbers and Passwords
Many people make the mistake of trusting lovers and friends with the PIN to their debit card. The problem with sharing a PIN is that a person who knows it can change it. That person can try to access other cards and accounts using the same PIN, as well. The consumer should trust no one with such information.
Change Login Information Frequently
Passwords to online bank accounts, email accounts and other important accounts should be changed at least once every three months. Once per month is a safer practice if the person has the patience to do it that frequently.
Obtain an Annual Credit Report
A credit report can speak volumes about identity theft. Every consumer should request one free copy of his or her credit report from the bureaus each year. The report will display all open credit accounts. The consumer should dispute any account that looks unfamiliar. The bureau must respond to the dispute within 30 days.
Sign up for Credit Monitoring Services
A credit monitoring service is an amazing tool for identity theft prevention. Such a tool will send a consumer instant alerts whenever someone opens a new account. It will notify a person if his or her credit score changes, as well. The debtor can then take action based on the information that he or she receives from the monitoring service.
Report Foul Play Immediately
A debtor should report a lost or stolen credit card immediately. Additionally, the person should contact the bureaus to launch investigations on any suspicious activities. Sometimes, the credit bureaus can place blocks on people’s social security numbers. No creditors will issue credit to these persons unless they answer a series of questions to verify their identity.
Finally, account holders should log into their online banking and credit card accounts frequently so they can catch strange activities quickly. Keeping one’s eyes open at all times is crucial.