Monday, April 13, 2015

How to protect yourself from Identity Theft

People will never seize to amaze me. Just when I think it can't get any worse, it does. I took a small break from this blog and social media last week due to an amazement that came in a bad form. I had my identity compromised. Even though we live in a digital world these days, we also must remember that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is accessible online. Even if you do not shop online or electronically pay your bills, chances are your banking institute is online.

I was only informed I had an issue when my bank sent me a new debit card. My current card was getting ready to expire so I thought nothing of it. I looked at it quickly and thought the numbers looked different but thought no more about it until my bank called me. They had asked about a check coming through that they thought was suspicious. Thankfully I was aware of this particular check, but that did spark my thought about the new debit card.

After speaking to another bank rep, I was informed my identity had been compromised and there was suspicious activity on my account. (Funny how they never called me about those issues..). I got everything sorted out and my new card activated before it really hit me. Someone had access to my personal information and could have potentially did some damage to my finances and my name. 

Identity theft is a real thing and can happen to ANYONE. I thought I was doing a thorough job of keeping all of my personal and financial information safe. I check my accounts every couple of days to make sure everything looks kosher. Just like that things can get scary. For this reason alone I asked lots of questions on how to do an ever better job at keeping my identity safe. Here are a few tips I learned so I wanted to throw them your way:

Change passwords regularly. A lot of financial institutes already make you do this, but if they don't do it yourself. It really can make the difference.

Credit Reports. Get yourself signed up for a program that provides you with quarterly reports. A lot of these programs will also alert you if you have any suspicious activity on your account. I have a program with my Discover credit card but unfortunately it is still in my parents address so I did not get any word of the issues going on. #fail

Protection. Similar to the reports I get from Discover, there are programs out there that are strictly in place to monitor your identity. I am personally looking into using Life Lock. A co-worker suggested it when I mentioned this little adventure. It offers detection, alerts, and restore services. There is a small fee a month but they will fight for you if you ever have an identity issue. Truth be told just because your bank got hacked doesn't mean your bank won't fight you tooth and nail with overdrawn charges and such. I know someone who was sent to collections from their bank and it was the banks fault. Crazy stuff out there folks!

Beware of Scams. This sounds like a no brainer but there are so many scams out there asking for your personal information.  Being in the freebie business (yes I consider it a business.. it takes lots of hard work!) I have to be very careful with who I give my info to. If it seems to good to be true, chances are it is a scam. There are new scams everyday and they are getting more and more believable so keep your guard up.

I hope this never happens to any of you, but if it does make sure you are prepared. Get yourself protected. This was such an eye opening experience for me and now I don't feel at all guilty to purchase a plan that will help me fight back had this been a serious threat.

Have you ever had your identity stolen or compromised? Were you prepared for it? I would love to hear how you handled this serious situation.









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4 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about this. I always worry and it's a terrible situation to wind up in. Hopefully now you are more protected from it happening again and others can learn about it and work in advance so it doesn't happen.

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  2. while I'm sooo sorry this happened to you, I am glad you shared this. It is a very real danger.. one that I feel like a lot of people take for granted. Our next door neighbors had their stuff stolen because they THREW AWAY bank statements and receipts. Yes you read that right... threw it away...obviously someone like you and I would know better. I shred or burn EVERYTHING that has personal information on it that I don't need anymore. But yes... all of the tips you shared HELP.

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  3. OMG I would never throw away anything with even my name on it! I shred or burn everything too. It is so scary to think people will go through your trash for that info. I get so nervous doing anything anymore. I hate that we have to worry about every little thing. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I know I am now more aware. Not that I wasn't before but like everyone else I had that "It won't happen to me" attitude and this blew that thought out of the way real fast!

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