With identity theft, it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when it will happen to you. And when it does, fast action by you, the victim, can stop the thieves in their tracks and help you recover your credit health sooner. Would you know what to do, where to start? A new website from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), www.Identitytheft.gov, can help you fight back fast and show you step-by-step what to do to begin recovering your information. I highly recommend visiting this website and poking around to see what you can learn in a few minutes about preventing identity theft before it happens. In the meantime, here are my top tips for stopping ID theft from ruining your credit.
The most important piece of advice I offer is that you MUST take responsibility for protecting yourself and here are two simple tips:
Regularly check your credit report - Twice per year, you need to check your credit reports. You can go directly to Experian, Trans Union & Equifax. Please make sure you review each credit report and keep them organized. Look for any suspicious or incorrect activity and notify the bureau and the creditor of your findings.
Look at all your bills - This advice may seem silly, but when you get a bill or account statement, you need to look at it and make sure all of the charges belong to you. So often we receive bills and throw them in a pile or a file and never look to see if everything is in order with the account. Break this habit and make a point of paying attention.
Finally, my advice to you is to become educated on preventing ID theft and paying attention to your finances and credit. Visiting the FTC website is a great place to start and hopefully you'll not have to visit again as a victim!
You can read more about the FTC's Identity Theft website and how it can help you by reading this: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/01/ftc-announces-significant-enhancements-identitytheftgov