Over the years, identity theft has become more and more common. Millions of people have their identities stolen yearly, and the problem worsens. The effects of identity theft can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. It can ruin your credit and lead to a loss of job opportunities, legal problems, and a whole host of other headaches. Dennis Haggerty, an expert on the subject, offers the following advice on safeguarding against identity theft.
Secure Your Social Security Number
One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to keep your Social Security number safe and secure. Dennis W. Haggerty Jr. advises that you avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or purse and don’t give it out to anyone unless necessary. When giving out your number, ensure you do so over a secure connection such as a locked mailbox or a secure website.
Protect Your Personal Information
Another way to protect yourself from identity theft is to be careful with your personal information. Don’t give out your credit card number or bank account information unless you’re sure they’re legitimate. When shopping online, make sure you’re using a secure connection by looking for the https:// in the address bar. Avoid doing sensitive activities such as online banking or shopping when using a public Wi-Fi network.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Identity theft can sometimes go undetected for months or even years. That’s why it’s essential to regularly monitor your credit report for any suspicious activity. You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies annually. Check them carefully for any unauthorized charges or accounts. If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately.
Use a Fraud Alert Service
If you’re worried about identity theft, you can sign up for a fraud alert service. This service will notify you if someone tries to open an account in your name. The best part is, it’s free. You must contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies and request a fraud alert.
Collect Your Mail on Time
One of the most common ways for identity thieves to steal your information is through your mailbox. To prevent this, make sure you collect your mail regularly. If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, consider having your mail forwarded to a friend or relative’s house. Also, a locking mailbox keeps thieves from easily taking your mail.
Use Firewalls and Antivirus Programs
Your computer is a target for identity thieves. To protect yourself, make sure you have a firewall and an antivirus program installed on your computer. These will help to keep hackers out of your system and prevent them from stealing your information. Also, avoid clicking on links in email messages or opening attachments from unknown senders.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. By following these simple tips, you can help to keep your information safe and secure.