3 Steps to Take Immediately After You Discover Your Identity was Stolen

shj110716_stolen_identity_blog_image-2Identity theft is much more common than any of us would like to think. In 2014, 32 data records were lost or stolen every second! (source) We have written about how to protect yourself in the past and recommend reading it again if it’s been a while. That said, sometimes no amount of protection can completely prevent identity theft.

Here are the first 3 things you should do if you suspect your identity has been stolen:

Lock down Your Account(s)
No matter how you discover your stolen identity, through a phone call from your bank or a database breach, the very first thing you need to do is lock down your problem account(s). Contact your financial institution and ask to either lock or close the account. You can usually roll the funds into another account or create a new one. Continue reading

Tips to Protect Your Social Security Number

As the number of identity theft cases and hacking scams increase, it is becoming more and more important to be aware of where and how you are releasing your personal information. Announced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 17.6 million U.S. residents experienced some type of identity theft in 2014 (source). The most critical piece of information to protect is the master key to your identity – your Social Security Number (SSN)!

Below are 6 tips to help protect your Social Security Number:

1. Offer Alternate Identification
It is important to be aware of who really needs to know your Social Security number and who does not. Often times financial institutions, employers, and the IRS will require the use of your Social Security number to open a new account, run a background check, or file your taxes. If you are prompted to provide your SSN, ask if an alternate ID such as your driver’s license will work instead. For example, your SSN is not always needed to run a credit report. (source) Continue reading

Identity Theft: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself

Identity theft has been in the news often over the past few years. So often, in fact, it is easy to think of it as a problem that only happens to other people. The unfortunate reality is identity theft continues to hurt thousands of Americans every year, ruining credit scores, jeopardizing careers and creating nightmares for victims trying to put their lives back on track.(source) Identity thieves try to steal information in many ways. Hacking, phishing or stealing smartphones, laptops and mail are all ways a thief can access your personal data.

Guard Your Personal Information
The first step to protecting yourself from becoming the next victim is guarding that personal information. Identity thieves can get virtually anyone’s address, birthdate and name easily. The thing that can harm you the most if it falls into the wrong hands is your Social Security number. Keep your Social Security card somewhere secure like a safe; do not carry it with you in your wallet or purse. Be extremely wary of any website that asks for your Social Security number. (source) Continue reading