Free and Easy Ways to Protect Your Identity

In an era of increasing risk of identity theft, it is more and more vital that consumers take steps to protect themselves and their own data. One fast and easy way to protect yourself and your family is to sign up for ID Theft SmartID Theft Smart is an affordable, extra layer of protection that watches your accounts and alerts you if there is any unusual activity.

On top of ID Theft Smart, there are steps you can take right now to help make your financial state securer. These six at home remedies will help keep your hard earned money where it belongs, with you.  

1. Go Through Your Wallet

Start by going through your wallet or purse to see what personally identifiable information you’re carrying around.

Do you leave your Social Security card in your wallet? Take it out. What membership cards have your name printed on them? Do you need to carry them? Are there other papers with important information stuffed inside your wallet? Clear them out. Do you carry unnecessary credit cards or debit cards around? Remove them. 

2. Use Credit Cards Online

Credit cards get a bad rap, but they can be an identity theft protection tool. Use a designated credit card for online purchases — both one-time and recurring — and in-person shopping rather than your debit card.

Make sure the credit card isn’t tied to your bank account and that it comes with $0 liability protection in case of misuse. Then, pay off the credit card purchases from your bank account. 

3. Add Passwords

Are you using sufficient passwords? Many Americans fail to fully protect all their devices and accounts. Create passwords for your phones, tablets, and computers, and don’t use the same passwords; make them slightly longer than existing passwords to boost security.

Check your online accounts for good passwords as well. If the website offers it, sign up for two-step verification — a process where the site sends a code to the phone or email address on file to verify your identity. 

4. Check Your Credit for Free

Did you know that you can check your own credit report annually for free? Before paying for a monitoring service or credit report access, use the free government-mandated website to do it yourself.

Annual Credit Report offers one free credit report from each of the three main reporting agencies each year. Make sure you recognize all the accounts, both open and closed, and report all unusual activity immediately. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check your minor children’s credit reports too. 

5. Watch Your Transactions

Being aware is one of the best protections anyone can have, and staying aware is generally free. Log into your accounts often — at least once a week — and check for any unrecognized transactions.

Small transactions are often used by thieves to test how alert you are before making larger fraudulent transactions, so don’t discount tiny amounts. If you have too many transactions to keep track of, try limiting them by using cash for small purchases. 

6. Shred Important Documents

Buy your household a personal home shredder. It is a small investment of money that yields big rewards in the form of protection. Leave the shredder where you go through your mail, in a home office, or even in a family room.

Develop a habit among all family members of shredding unneeded mail, old bank statements, and credit offers. 

No matter whether you start small — such as clearing out your wallet — or take on all these changes, you’ll be able to move forward with more confidence in a risky world.

To learn more about ID Theft Smart and how it can protect you from identity theft, click here.

For more help protecting yourself online and offline, talk with the personal finance pros at Unison Bank today.