Preventing Identity Theft
By Joshua B. Angell
Living in a technologically advanced, fast-paced society has many benefits for consumers, especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this has also given a rise in identity theft. We have seen an increasing number of security breaches and company hackings in the past decade, putting thousands of people’s personal information at risk. Consumers need to take extra precautions today in order to avoid identity theft.
Here are 10 ways in which you can help prevent against identity theft:
- Use your credit card or pay with cash whenever possible.
- Don’t give out your social security number unless it is completely necessary and secure it in a safe place. Don’t carry it around with you or in your wallet. Store all other personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
- Check your three-free annual credit history report from the three major credit agencies. Verify that all activity represents your own. You can order them for free from Annualcreditreport.com.
- If you are a credit card holder, check to see if you receive a free updated FICO score every month. Most credit cards now offer this feature to their customers. Check to see what causes any changes in your score, if any, to monitor any possible fraudulent activity.
- Don’t give out any personal information or respond to unsolicited requests whether by phone, mail or other online communications.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks or computers to access personal or information-sensitive accounts, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, or other accounts containing your personal address, name, information and payment information.
- Collect your mail in a timely manner. Avoid accumulating mail in your mailbox and place a hold on your mail if you will be away for several days. Shred any credit offers, account statements, receipts or other documents containing sensitive information prior to recycling or tossing them.
- Install anti-virus and firewalls on your computer and other electronic devices as necessary. Keep these programs up to date.
- Continuously change your passwords for any database or device you use that contains sensitive and/or personal information. Make sure to create strong passwords that would be hard for others to guess.
- Monitor your account balances, credit card charges and other account transactions on a regular basis in order to identify any fraudulent activity.
If you encounter any instance of identity theft, make sure to request a freeze of your credit reports immediately and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
Report your identity theft to your local police station if the identity thief is someone you know, the thief used your name with the police or otherwise a creditor or other company requires you to provide a police report for your identity theft.
Joshua B. Angell, CFA, ASA, CPA/ABV, is the senior managing director of the Valuation Advisory Services and Litigation Practice Group of Ellrich, Neal, Smith & Stohlman, P.A., in Palm Beach Gardens. Angell can be reached at (561) 624-0355 or email@example.com
December 11 - 2017