Guarding your identity and credit doesn’t have to be expensive. While pricey ID protection services may be useful for some you may be able to save money by doing the work to protect your identity yourself.
Here are 9 ways to help you guard your data:
1.Credit report check - Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and check your credit report for suspicious activity from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. The service is free!
2.Security freeze - Usually provided free by the credit bureaus for those over 65 or to past ID theft victims which restricts access to your report. When businesses can’t see the report, they won’t approve new financial or service accounts in your name.
3.Fraud alert - This is always free but less secure than a freeze. It means that an institution opening a new account in your name is supposed to verify your identity directly with you.
4.Locking mailbox - Only 4 in 10 homeowners have key-operated mailboxes to thwart scammers from stealing mail with personal and account information.
5.An unlisted phone number - At $20 to $60 a year, it should keep you off public directories used by name-citing scammers calling with feigned “official business”.
6.Prepaid debit card - If your debit card is used fraudulently, you could be out a lot of money. Prepaid debit cards are safer, limiting your potential losses. But beware of high usage fees.
7.External storage - Computer crippling ransomware and other malware can hijack your computer or block access to its content, so back up important files off-device. You can get a portable, encryption-enabled USB thumb drive for as low as $5.
8.Free monitoring - Credit Karma offers free, no-strings credit monitoring of your TransUnion credit report; Credit Sesame does the same with Experian.
9.Protection software - Recommended freebies come from Malwarebytes, Panda Free, AVG, Avast and Bitdefender. These are basic packages, but some Internet providers offer full-strength freebies to customers.
Click here to learn more about Financial Data Safeguards from Solidarity.