4 Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission received 2.8 million consumer fraud reports. Identity theft is a real threat to everyday people.

Whether it’s in-person or online, professional criminals look for sensitive information to steal identities. Their methods may not be what you’d think. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to protect yourself.

1. Review Your Financial Statements Regularly

It’s always a good idea to check in on your accounts to track spending, note discrepancies, or keep on top of your financial goals. In addition, regularly checking in on your bank or credit card accounts can keep you safe from identity theft.

If you notice any charges you don’t recognize, unusual activity, or anything else out of the ordinary, it could be a sign that your identity has been compromised. Even if it’s nothing, it never hurts to check in. Any financial institution would be happy to double-check the transactions and ensure your account is secure.

2. Collect Your Mail Daily

You may not think so, but your mail is valuable. Thieves can use anything with identifying information such as credit offers, utility bills, and more, to steal your information. Junk mail is gold for identity thieves.

If your mailbox is open to the public, make sure to check and retrieve your mail every day. Keeping your information away from potential thieves could save you the trouble of identity theft.

3. Go Paperless When Possible

Paperless statements are great for a variety of reasons. They clean up your mailbox, save on paper, and keep a digital record for future reference. And they could also protect your identity.

Even when collecting your mail daily, there’s a period of time when your mail is out in the open. Switching to paperless can remove that window of vulnerability and offer you peace of mind.

4. Shred Documents Before Disposing of Them

When you have physical documents with sensitive information, it’s important to dispose of them properly. Usually, that means shredding.

When you throw away sensitive documents intact, malicious actors can sift through trash to acquire your information. To safely dispose of documents, you can buy a personal shredder or take documents to a company you trust that offers secure disposal or shredding services.