Most New Years Resolutions are made to improve one’s physical health; going to the gym, or eating healthier are at the top of most lists. Here are a few suggestions that will lower your risk of getting scammed in 2015 and beyond.
1. Check your Credit report 3 times a year. This allows you to track your credit carefully and confirm that only you are using your credit. Only about 25% of Americans will do this. You can check it 3 times a year here: www.annualcreditreport.com
2. Shred more paperwork. Most safety conscious people will shred credit card offers, bank statements, bills, and other papers with personal information but you may also want to shred prescription labels, that thieves can use to get prescriptions in your name.
3. Social Media. Be careful of posting personal details online, family members names, your birthday, and hometown; all of this information can be used to help steal your identity.
4. Re-write passwords. For vital things like your online banking, brokerage, paypal, cell phone and computer accounts you need to routinely re-write your passwords. You can mix it up by using letters, numbers and symbols.
5. File your taxes quickly. In 2013 there were over $5 Billion in fraudulent tax refunds filed. Watch for your tax documents in the mail and if you have not received them by January 31st, you need to follow up. Many tax documents can be stolen right out of your mailbox and be used to file tax returns in your name. A locking mailbox is a great defense.
6. Junk Mail. You can get your name off of lists for credit card offers at optoutprescreen.com. Credit card offer forms are goldmines for identity thieves.
7. Credit & Bank Card Alerts. You can enroll for alerts when your credit card is used online or over the phone.
8. Put a Freeze on your Credit. This restricts access to your credit report, now allowing potential identity thieves from opening an account in your name without getting your permission. This won’t affect your credit scores or your ability to review your credit. It can be unfrozen prior to your applying for credit.