7 Ways To Protect Your Family From Identity Theft

Major data breaches have been in the news lately and I’m confident that more big breaches will occur.  Less publicized breaches often occur that we don’t hear about.

Are you confident that companies are keeping your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) safe?  It doesn’t matter how well they’re doing.  It’s still likely that the data could be stolen by hackers (like the stereotypical hooded guy with sunglasses).

Hacker stealing data from a laptop

© Brian Jackson / Dollar Photo Club

It’s not only your information at risk but your child’s identity could be stolen as well.  That’s the extra incentive that led me to signing my family up for protection through Zander Insurance, a service highly recommended and endorsed by Dave Ramsey.

Children are at risk like adults and may be targeted more given that the theft may not be detected until later.

In addition to signing up for protection, I can think of some other things that you can do to help prevent identity theft or pick up on it before extensive damage is done.

  1. General Awareness - Be sure to keep your information in a safe place.  Don't carry social security cards or items that make it extra easy for you to be compromised.  Don't give your information out over the phone or via email.  Most places, such as banks, do not request information that way.
  2. Run Your Free Credit Reports - The three big credit agencies each allow you to run a free credit report every twelve months.  If you space each one out then you can run a fresh and free report every four months.  You can go to annualcreditreport.com to order reports.
  3. Passwords - Don't use the same password for every site and abide by strong password rules.  You could use software such as LastPass or 1Password to ensure that your passwords are hard to crack and follow the strength rules.
  4. Shred Documents - Don't simply throw papers away that have your information on them.  Be sure to shred every piece of paper that has PII on it.
  5. Monitor Your Statements - Watch your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.  Most institutions and credit card companies offer alerts for unusual activity so take advantage of those.
  6. Web - Be careful about doing things with your sensitive information over unsecured wireless networks.  You never know when somebody is watching the traffic over a wireless network for your credit card and personal information.  The wireless network should be encrypted and require a password for access.  Be sure to secure your wireless network at home as well.
  7. Old School Theft - Don't forget to lock your doors and don't leave important documents out in the open.  You never know who may be lurking and looking for a target.

I hope that I’ve provided some good information to help you keep your family’s identity safe.  Doing the easy things, like what I’ve noted above, could thwart an attack and save you big money and aggravation.

Please leave any comments that you have about identity theft.  Be safe out there!

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