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9 Signs You’re a Victim of Identity Theft & How to Avoid it

last updated March 23, 2018

There are many elements of financial interactions that affect credit, most of which Americans know and understand. After all, the fact that defaulting on a car loan, carrying a credit card balance, skipping payments, or filing for bankruptcy are credit killers is common knowledge.

How to avoid identity theft

When someone steals your identity, they can do lasting damage to your credit, making even bad credit auto loans hard to secure. Protecting yourself from identity theft is very important, especially in our digital era where information is so readily available. Here are some ways to protect yourself against identity theft and all the credit perils that come with it, from mountains of debt to bad credit auto loans.

9 Signs Your Identity Has been Stolen

  • Strange transactions are taking place on your bank account you did not expect
  • Suddenly, your bills and other mail stop coming in the mail as they’d normally do.
  • Your checks bounce.
  • You get annoying calls from debt collectors saying you owe people money you never did business with.
  • Your credit card statement is showing strange transactions that you never allowed.
  • You receive medical bills in the mail when you never received medical services.
  • Your health benefits do not work anymore because all of your plan’s benefits have been used up by someone else.
  • You apply for medical insurance but the insurance company says you have a condition you’ve never had.
  • You find out from the IRS that more then one tax return has been done in your name when you go to file.
  • You’re notified of a data breach at the place you work or do business.

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Protect Your Personal Information

The best way to strive to prevent identity theft is to keep your information private. Don’t share personal information when you don’t have to. This includes signing up for services online that ask for unnecessary information or including your social security number on frequently seen documents, such as your drivers license. Always be cautious. If a magazine salesman calls and wants to sell you National Geographic, don’t give him your social just because he asks. Be smart about your private info.

Destroy Digital Info

Although it might be compelling to keep files on your computer with private information so you don’t lose it, it’s not wise. If you keep sensitive files on your hard drive, white out social security numbers, birth dates, or other information. Hacking is easy; don’t make it easier for computer thieves to take your identity along with your meaningful files.

Use a Shredder

You know those personalized credit card applications that come in the mail every few days that you toss without opening? If you just throw them away, it’s easy for another person to fill one out in your name. Shred any mail or paperwork you don’t need in order to keep your information safe. While any kind of shredder is better than no shredder, a cross shredder is the best option.

Protect Your Checks

Still use paper checks? Limit the information that shows up there. You don’t need to include your address on checks, despite the current trends. Avoid using checks when possible, but when you do, keep the amount of information printed there to a minimum.

Identity theft can be a devastating occurrence. It could take years to recover and remedy the damage that takes place, including the consequences identity theft may have on your credit report. Protecting yourself against identity theft can make a difference in your credit score and even your ability to secure bad credit auto loans. By staying vigilant, you can protect yourself and your family from this financial disaster.

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