When it comes to independence, your identity is a large part of that. Protecting your identity enables you to live your life and maximize each day. Sadly, scammers will do anything to steal your identity and claim it as their own. This leaves you in an endless cycle of having to prove you’re you.
Here are some ways you can keep your identity safe.
- Protect your personal information. Give as little information as possible. If asked for personal information, ask how it will be used and protected. Most importantly, don’t give out your social security number. Don’t carry your social security card with you, and when paperwork contains your social security number, shred it or store it in a secure place where only you can access it.
- Freeze your credit. Don’t allow thieves to open credit cards or apply for loans using your information. Freeze your credit with each credit bureau: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Then, during those times when there is a bona fide reason for your credit to be open you can temporarily unfreeze it. It’s free to freeze and unfreeze your credit. Find out more about freezing your credit here.
- Choose a trusted contact. Designate someone who can be contacted in certain instances. The trusted contact cannot make decisions regarding your investments, but they can be reached when there is a fraud concern or if you are unreachable. Learn more about trusted contacts here.
- Share less on social media. Identity thieves gather details from your social media accounts to impersonate you and gather even more information. Make your social accounts private, and only accept friend requests/followers from people you know.
- Check your credit reports. You can access your credit report for free at least once per year from each bureau. Ensure the accounts are ones you use and recognize. Make sure what is in the report matches what you know to be true.
- Shred documents with personal information. Use a cross-cut shredder to dispose of important documents that you no longer need and other documents with personal information.
- Review your statements. Monitor your credit card and bank statements to ensure all the transactions are right and accounted for. If a transaction doesn’t seem right, contact your bank or credit company to find out more about that transaction.
By taking the time to protect your information, you can save yourself immense time in the long run. Remember, the team of state government officials at the Iowa Insurance Division are here to help you. You can report scams here.