One of the most awful things that can happen to you is to become a victim of identity theft. A thief can assume your identity, open lines of credit in your name, pose as you, destroy your credit, and just generally wreak havoc with your life. When you are the victim of identity theft, it can take a long time and a lot of patience to sort out all the damage that was done and to correct it. It is important that everyone try to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft in the first place. Below are a few tips for protecting yourself from identity thieves, and ways you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.
- Protect your personal identifying information. Sometimes the reason a thief is able to steal your identity is because you willingly or unwittingly provided the information necessary to pose as yourself. It is important that you safeguard and do not give out your personal identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, account numbers, credit card numbers and security codes, etc. unnecessarily.
- Shred your personal information if you are throwing it away. Dumpster diving is a real technique that is still used by identity thieves to obtain useful information about you. Once your trash is out by the curb, thieves can take it and sort through it, looking for discarded credit card applications, bank statements, etc. Any document that has personal identifying information on it, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, account numbers, etc., needs to be shredded thoroughly (i.e., using cross-cut shredding) before disposal.
- Use hard-to-guess passwords and change them regularly. It is important that you password-protect your online accounts with fairly complicated, hard-to-guess passwords. It is recommended that passwords involve 8-16 characters, that are a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Adding in capital and lowercase letters helps to increase complexity, too. Passwords should be changed frequently, such as every three to six months.
- Keep up to date on your credit reports and account statements. It is important that you check your account statements regularly so that you can identify immediately if anything is amiss. You should also check your credit reports at least once a year. Each of the three major reporting agencies is required by law to allow you to access a free copy of your credit report each year. You can obtain your free annual copies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Despite your best efforts, it is still possible to become a victim of identity theft. While you might do everything in your power to protect your personal information from identity thieves, your information could get stolen from a third party, such as a major retailer, your bank or your credit card company. These entities can fail to protect consumers and can be hacked and sensitive customer information can be stolen.
Contact An Identity Theft Protection Lawyer
If you have become an identity theft victim, it is important that you take steps to immediately stop the situation from getting any worse. You need to work on recovery. If you are unsure what to do, an experienced identity theft protection lawyer can help you develop a plan of action and determine a path for legal recourse. Contact the professionals at the Bromberg Law Office, P.C. to schedule an appointment.