Chances are you know someone–or know of someone–who’s been the victim of some form of identity theft. It’s also possible that you yourself have experienced this type of fraud; for example; if your bank has called you about an unauthorized purchase using your credit card. Identity theft is a real problem, having the potential to cause you and your family lots of headaches–both real and financial.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of simple, inexpensive ways to protect yourself from identity theft.


1. Be Careful with Your Information

Never give personal information like Social Security numbers, birth dates, passwords and credit card/bank account numbers to strangers over the phone, email or text. Fraudsters have become very adept at sending legitimate-looking emails that appear to come from your bank, credit card issuer or services like PayPal.

Keep your financial information stored in a safe place, try not to leave your wallet unattended and avoid carrying a Social Security card or passwords in your purse or wallet.

When using social media, avoid posting your full birthdate, mother’s maiden name, address or any other personal information that could be used to open accounts in your name.


2. Monitor Accounts

It’s a chore to go through your bank and credit card statements every month, but monitoring your accounts regularly can help protect you from identity theft.

According to fraud experts, most people are not aware that their identity has been stolen until they find money missing in their accounts, so it’s wise to be vigilant about checking these accounts.

Don’t forget about your phone bill: As smartphones increasingly become payment devices, they can become easy targets for criminals.


3. Create an ID-Theft File

What happens when your wallet is stolen? You’ll want to immediately call your credit card institutions and other financial accounts to report the theft. If you don’t have all those numbers ready in a safe place, now is the time.

This file can also be handy for storing credit reports, passwords and other information in case you become the victim of identity theft.


4. Secure Your Technology

These days, your computer, tablet and smartphone have as much sensitive information as your wallet. Start to secure these devices by establishing secure passwords, lock screens, firewalls and anti-virus software in case one of them gets lost or stolen.


5. Start Shredding

If you still pay bills through the mail, remember to properly shred any part of the invoice you’re not throwing away, since they’ll likely contain your address, phone number and account numbers. Also, remember to shred mailed credit card offers, mortgage offers and anything with your address or personal information.

A final safeguard is identity theft insurance, which covers most of the costs associated with restoring your identity if it’s been compromised. This could include lost wages, phone bills and other expenses incurred during the process. If you’d like to talk with someone about identity-theft insurance, feel free to give us a call at: 703-754-4300

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