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The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

Before Buying an Expensive Service, Do These Things for Free to Protect Your Identity

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You have probably heard about major retailers suffering data breaches where customers’ credit information is stolen. Maybe you have even been directly affected by one of these breaches. The news media makes it sound like we are all in imminent danger of identity theft, but the reality is that only about three percent of Americans actually have their identities stolen each year. More frequently, consumers are the victims of credit card fraud. In response the consumers’ fears, companies now offer identity and credit protection. Are you considering subscribing to one of these services? Before you do, take these simple (and free!) steps to protect your credit.

Common-Sense Measures to Protect Yourself From Theft and Fraud

It really just takes caution and diligence to avoid becoming the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud. In many cases, making the effort to guard your online information will be enough to prevent theft. Take the following measures regularly:

  • Pay for online purchases with a credit card. Credit cards offer better protections against theft than debit cards or online payment services.

  • A Gloved Hand Reaching Through a Computer Screen and Grabbing a WalletClear logins and passwords. If you are using public computers or open Wi-Fi networks, be sure to clear your login information. Also, change logins and passwords monthly.

  • Beware of phishing. Never enter personal information on a pop-up website or in response to a suspicious email. Go to the website yourself and verify that it is authentic before entering anything.

  • Monitor credit card and bank statements. In the age of electronic accounts, it’s all too easy to overlook your statements each month. Be sure to review all bank activity and all credit card charges each month. The earlier you detect a problem, the easier it will be to clear up.

  • Verify your mailing address. Check in with financial institutions regularly to confirm your mailing address. The first thing identity thieves do is change your address so they can apply for credit cards.

  • Monitor your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report every year. Take the time to get one and look it over for anything suspicious.

  • Shred sensitive documents. Paper does still exist, and you get a lot of it every month. Be sure to shred bank statements, credit card applications, and even junk mail that has personal information on it.

If you do an unusual amount of online banking or shopping and you know you won’t make the effort to take these steps on a regular basis, you may want to consider a protection service.

We Can Help With Fair Credit Reporting Act Violations

If your diligence turns up problems with your credit report or bank accounts, you have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you feel that those rights have been violated, contact our office for help. We know the law and we can make sure it works for you.

 

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