Identity theft is on the rise and it can be a nightmare to deal with.
If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, you could be dealing with fraudulent charges and ruined credit for years. That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect your credit.
Here are 7 tips to help keep your finances safe:
1. Keep your personal information private
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to be careful about who you share your personal information with. Be cautious about giving out your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account information. Only give this information to trusted sources, and make sure you know how it will be used and protected.
Identity thieves can use your personal information to open new accounts in your name, run up charges on existing accounts, or even file for bankruptcy. So it’s important to keep a close eye on your credit report and financial statements for any suspicious activity.
2. Monitor your credit report regularly
Monitoring your credit report is also a good way to catch errors or inaccuracies that could hurt your credit score. So it’s a good idea to check it at least once a year, and more often if you’re planning on making a major purchase like buying a home or car.
If you do find something fishy going on, don’t hesitate to contact the credit bureau or your financial institution right away.
Here are the top three ways you can check your credit score and stay at the top of your finances:
Free apps or websites
Visiting a free credit scoring website is one of the best ways to check your credit score for free. These websites usually provide you with access to your credit report, score, and/or credit monitoring, and they are updated weekly to monthly. Signing up for basic credit score updates is free. Some websites, however, charge a monthly fee for more advanced services.
Your Credit Card Provider
Many credit card companies also provide free credit score checks to their cardholders. These tools frequently include the ability to view your score history and see what caused recent changes. Customers can also predict how their credit scores will change based on factors such as on-time payments, credit limit increases, and taking out a mortgage with some providers.
Credit counseling is a service that assists people in getting out of debt. This could include giving borrowers money management advice, creating a budget, working with creditors, developing healthier financial habits, and assisting borrowers in developing a debt repayment plan. These organizations can help you check your credit ratings as well as share useful insights on how to improve them.
3. Shred sensitive documents before throwing them away
You should also be careful about what you throw away. Identity thieves can rummage through your trash to find sensitive information like account numbers or Social Security numbers, so it’s important to shred any documents that contain this kind of information before you throw them away.
4. Avoid giving out your Social Security number unnecessarily
Your Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of information a identity thief can have. So it’s important to be careful about who you give it to. Avoid giving it out unless absolutely necessary, and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable source before doing so.
If you do need to give your Social Security number, make sure you’re doing so in a secure way. For example, don’t email it or send it over an unsecured website.
Identity thieves can use your Social Security number to open new accounts, file for bankruptcy, or commit other types of fraud. So it’s important to keep it safe and only give it out when absolutely necessary.
5. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are another place where identity thieves can strike. When you’re using public Wi-Fi, be careful about what information you’re sharing. Avoid logging in to sensitive accounts or entering personal information on websites. If you do need to enter sensitive information, make sure the website is encrypted and that you’re using a secure connection.
6. Protect your computer with anti-virus software and a firewall
You should also protect your computer with anti-virus software and a firewall. This will help to keep identity thieves from being able to access your personal information. Make sure you keep your anti-virus software up to date, and run regular scans to check for any threats.
7. Use a strong password for all of your online accounts
Finally, make sure you’re using a strong password for all of your online accounts. A strong password should be at least eight characters long and include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessed words like your name or birthday. And don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. If an identity thief gets their hands on one of your passwords, they could try to use it to access your other accounts.
By following these tips, you can help to protect your credit and keep your finances safe. Identity theft is a serious problem, but by taking some simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.