People worry about identity theft, and rightly so. Many Americans are in danger of having their identities stolen, and having credit debt run up in their name, only to have to go through cleaning up a mess that is not of their making. As a result, there are many companies that offer identity theft protection for a price. While the concept is a good one, it is much more effective and better to monitor your own credit scores and protect yourself from identity theft than it is to pay an outside company to do so. There are effective ways to accomplish this, and they are not as time consuming as many people think. They also won’t cost you an arm and a leg as so many of these companies do.
The most important thing is to keep track of your credit score. Good or bad, you need to order your free credit report from the three credit bureaus every year. Even if your credit is poor, and there’s not much you can do about it, you still need to make sure that all the negative marks on your credit report are really yours. if you see something that does not belong there, dispute it yourself, and provide any documentation that you may have proving it is not your debt. Believe it or not, your credit score is actually in more danger from unscrupulous debt collectors than it is from identity theft. By making sure that everything on your credit report actually belongs there, this is the first step in preventing identity theft. You also know better than any company that you may be paying to monitor your identity what belongs there and what doesn’t.
When you receive any information regarding credit, debts that you owe, or anything that contains confidential information in the mail, make sure that you shred these documents. The smaller the pieces that you shred them into, the better. Make sure that any and all numbers are unable to be reconstructed. Some shredders will actually turn your documents into confetti, and these are the best ones to use, just to make sure that anyone who goes through your trash looking for ways to steal your identity will not easily find them.
Watch where you use your credit and debit cards, and never write down your personal information where anyone else can get to it. Don’t even send it in emails to recipients that you know, because it can be intercepted by hackers. Carefully inspect any ATM or credit card machine that you use, especially if it is outside. Whenever possible use indoor ATM’s that are carefully guarded. As long as you are vigilant in protecting your own identity, you should not have to pay for someone else to do so.