Credit safety: lock down with credit freeze or place a fraud alert
If you consider identity theft as a serious threat to your finances and you want to ensure that no shady activities are going on without your knowledge, you can opt for a credit freeze or fraud alerts. Credit freeze works by freezing your credit reports, which means that creditors cannot extend credit to you unless you “unfreeze” your account. Fraud alerts, on the other hand, are automated notifications that alert you when someone is using your credit or is making inquiries about you. It can be requested from your financial institutions or the major credit companies. So, if you don’t want to have a tarnished record and be vigilant with your credit, fraud alerts and credit freezes are a good choice.
Consider credit monitoring
A credit monitoring service is a more advanced way of checking your credit files. It’s like an early warning signal that alerts consumers whenever there are changes in their accounts. The most common reasons that trigger an alert include changes in address, opening a new account or updates in major loan interests. Whether the inquiry is done by you or a criminal, credit monitoring can help you spot it immediately. This service comes at a cost, but it’s affordable since most companies that offer credit monitoring also provides insurance coverage, which is very beneficial in the event of a theft.
Use some inexpensive techniques
Minimizing the accessibility of your personal information is one good way to safeguard your identity. You can do this in a number of ways.
- Invest in a cross-cut shredder that you’ll use to destroy bills and mails with your financial information on them. This is worthy considering there are thieves known to “dumpster dive” through your waste baskets just to obtain any information about you.
- If necessary, you can also invest in a cheap household safe where you can keep all your important documents locked at home. Important identification documents that you shouldn’t always bring, like SS numbers and passports, can be stored in the safe.
- Minimize the number of cards you regularly use. Aside from the fact that your spending pattern can go out of control because of owning too many credit cards, this can also cause some serious damages and inconvenience if in case they get lost or stolen. Also, keep a list of the contact numbers of your credit card companies, because you’ll need this in case of emergency.
- Always think about the consequences of sharing information over the internet. Not all websites are safe places to hang out and this includes your favorite social media platform. Be extra careful about what you share online and, as much as possible, limit the personal details you give out to others.