Identity theft can really bust your budget, your savings, and your credit – it’s just a fact. They gain your information in a number of ways, use it until it starts to show the wear and tear, and then just toss it away and move on to the next victim. Once it happens to you, there is no end to the amount of frustration, time, money, energy, and piece of mind that you will lose.
There are so many different things that you can do to ensure your information is safe from hackers and thieves. You might think that it will cost you a lot of money to do this, but it actually is cheaper than you think. In fact, there are a lot of things that you can actually do without costing you anything at all. Here are three ways that you can protect yourself, your assets, and your family:
Become The Hawk
You want to become the “hawk” of your family by watching your credit reports like a bird of prey. This means going over them with a fine tooth comb a few times a year. Sure, it doesn’t sound all that fun, but by knowing what’s in your credit reports you are already aware of any changes before they happen. You can gain one free credit report per year from each of the different reporting bureaus and extra copies are also free if you are turned down for credit anywhere. The trick is that you have to request these in writing and it can take a week or so before you hear anything back from them.
If you haven’t been turned down for credit, I recommend that you purchase a copy a couple of times a year on top of your free one. This might cost you a whole $12 each time, per report, for a whopping $36 each time. For me, this is less than a tank of gas, less than going out to eat once, and less than date at the movies for sure. It is not a lot of money and you will have quick access to your credit reports right away.
You can also sign up for some of the credit reporting services that offer you a constant look at your credit reports. FreeCreditReport.com is one of the main ones out there and chances are that you’ve heard their commercials. Their plans start at about $10 per month, which is cheaper than a lot of things that you do on a daily basis. With these types of services, you can quickly see anything on your report, file disputes, and find out right away if anyone is trying to steal your credit.
The main idea is to really keep an eye on your credit at all times. The more you know about your credit scores and reports, the better off you are to catch anything that might pop up from a hacker.
Statements Aren’t Just Trash Anymore
When you get bank or credit card statements, what do you do with them? I admit that I have been guilty in the past of throwing them in a stack or file, and not really taking the time to check them over. I’ve learned that you have to check these over thoroughly each and every month to catch mistakes, problems, errors, and fraud quickly. It only takes one slip for something large to fall through the cracks and you end up with a huge bill.
Of course, it’s not just your bank and credit card statements that you want to watch. There are utilities, ATM cards, pre-paid accounts, auto loans, home loans, insurance, and more – basically anything that you get a statement for, you should check over completely. This can help you to catch problems right away and stop them immediately. And guess what – this is completely free!
Be On The Offensive
Don’t wait until something bad happens and your identity is stolen. Don’t wait until someone has taken your information and ran up fake credit cards in your name to the tune of thousands of dollars. The good thing is that there are tons of great identity theft reviews out that will show you exactly what they can offer you for a very reasonable monthly or yearly price.
These types of programs are great for keeping a very proactive approach to keeping your information safe. They alert you when anyone (even you) tries to use your information to gain credit anywhere, open accounts, or anything like that. You’ll be able to sign up for different types of alerts so that you will be able to put a stop to anyone trying to use your information quickly before they are able to actually do anything with it.
The key is not to wait for something to happen. If you take that approach, you are going to find yourself spending thousands to fix problems you didn’t create. Instead, take an approach that you must always protect your information from everyone and take an active role in doing so. This will help ensure that nothing slips through and ends up costing you time and money.