When you purchase ID theft insurance from Shell Insurance Agency, you probably hope you’ll never use it. Things happen in Deer Park, TX, just as they do in the rest of the US, so taking careful preventative measures helps you avoid needing to file a claim.
Using the advice from the US government and identity theft expert Frank Abagnale, we’ve put together this quick list of precautions to help you keep your identity safe.
- Keep your Social Security card in a safe place, such as a safe or safety deposit box, stored with your other critical identifying documents. Don’t carry your number with you; memorize it. Only provide your Social Security number when necessary.
- Avoid sharing personal information, such as your birthdate or bank account number, unless you must for an application or payment.
- Use a credit monitoring service like Lifelock or Experian Dark Web Scan + Credit Monitoring monitors the three major credit bureaus – Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. The service needs to notify you in real-time of an identity compromise.
- Use a micro-cut shredder to credit offers, shred receipts, account statements you still get on paper, and expired credit cards so no dumpster diver can access your personal information.
- Collect your mail daily and put delivery on hold when you go out of town.
- Know your billing cycle date and contact your bank or creditor if your statement doesn’t arrive on time.
- Compare your receipts with your bank statement and credit card statements to balance your accounts and catch unauthorized transactions.
- Review all three of your credit reports annually to check for incorrect information, especially accounts you don’t recognize. You can get a free credit report from Annualcreditreport.com.
- Always use a credit card, so you use the bank’s money, not your own. Credit cards protect you from unauthorized charges. You typically only have liability for $50.
- Avoid using debit cards since they provide a bank account gateway. Examine any ATM or gas station pump card reader carefully before using it. Skimmer attacks place an artificial card reader over the legitimate reader to steal your card number, then your cash.
- Activate all of the security features on your smartphone and other mobile devices.
- Create passwords you can remember that an identity thief would find difficult to guess or hack. At a minimum, you should use a different password for each website. Each should consist of at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one digit, one special character when allowed, and not more than three repeating characters. Typically, each password must consist of at least eight characters.
- If a company with which you do business experiences a security breach, change your password for their site.
- Install virus-detection software, malware detection software, and a firewall on your home computer, tablet, and smartphone.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi. Also, update your firewall settings before signing onto public Wi-Fi.
- Freeze your credit files with the credit bureaus, Innovis, and the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange if you know you don’t need to apply for a loan or a credit card. The freeze prevents costs nothing and stops anyone from being able to apply for credit or utilities in your name.
If you don’t already have ID theft insurance, contact Shell Insurance Agency serving Deer Park, TX. Let us help you protect your identity.