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Protect yourself from Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. You may not find out that someone is using your number until you are turned down for credit or you begin to get calls from unknown creditors demanding payment for items you never bought. Someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems.
Consider incorporating these practices that may help protect you from becoming an identity theft victim:
- Pay attention to detail. The first indication of identity theft is often seen on a bank or credit/debit card statement. Make a point to track your spending and read over your statements regularly to check for any fraudulent charges.
- Get your credit report, it’s free. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each credit bureau once a year.
- Be on the defense against scammers. You don’t need to constantly live in fear, but remember there are plenty of scammers out there. A good rule of thumb: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Use security features. Free anti-virus and anti-malware software is available for your computer and your smartphone. Make sure these are up-to-date and running throughout the year to protect your personal information online.
- Shred it. Even in the digital age, identity thieves still turn to old-fashioned dumpster diving to find your personal information. Use a crosscut shredder on all personal documents.
- Lock it up. There’s no need to carry your Social Security card with you most of the time. Leave it at home in a lockbox unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you have people working in your home, be sure to put away any papers with identifying information.
- Don’t share. Relatively few organizations really need your Social Security number. Ask your doctor’s office or your child’s school if they can use another form of identification. Never share your personal information over the phone unless you initiated contact.
- Sign up for credit monitoring and identity theft protection. You can gain some peace of mind with a subscription to a credit monitoring and identity theft protection product. Identity theft protection products, alerts to key changes in your credit report, and internet scanning that will detect if your Social Security number or important account numbers are found on suspicious trading sites.
Remember, title insurance will protect you against hidden risks that may not be discovered even with the most meticulous examination of public record, such as impersonation of those purporting to be owners of the property prior to the issuance of your title insurance policy. Probably the most comforting feature of title insurance is that it pays any covered loss sustained from such a defect in your title. You and your heirs are protected as long as you or your heirs own the property.
The information contained herein was gathered from sources deemed reliable, however Landwood Title company does not guarantee nor shall be held accountable or liable for its accuracy.