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Guarding against Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing problem. Hackers are getting smarter and more aggressive, with sites such as Target, Adobe and many others being successfully targeted in 2013. Guarding against identity theft is vitally important if you want to preserve your credit score and your savings. Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

  1. Don’t carry valuable information and cards if you aren’t using them. Your birth certificate, Social Security card, credit cards and debit cards should only be carried out of the house when you’re actually going to use them. Otherwise, keep them locked in a safe place at home.

  1. Monitor your mail and shred it. Some of your regular mail has personal information within that can help identity thieves get a foothold on stealing your identity and credit. Consider using a post office box to help limit your exposure to theft, or switching to online statements. If you use your own mailbox, make sure you check your mail for tampering and that you get your statements on time each month. Also, be sure to always shred statements that you aren’t saving.

  1. Use a different password for everything. If you use only one password for multiple accounts and sites, then hackers only need to break into one account in order to find the password that allows them access to everything else. If you have the same password for your email, iTunes, bank and Amazon accounts, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. That’s why each site should have its own complicated password ideally comprised of random letters, symbols and numbers.

  1. Change your passwords. Every six months or so, you should go through and change the passwords you use for your various online accounts.

  1. Never give out personal information through email. If you get an email asking you for a credit card numbers, Social Security number, password and so on, you should ignore the request and call the company directly.

Even if you take all these steps, you could still find yourself an identity theft victim. That’s why it’s important to still monitor your credit report at least semi-annually, so if there are any odd accounts or mistakes, you can get them corrected and stop the theft as early as possible.

About Dennis M. Postema

Dennis M. Postema, RFC, is a successful entrepreneur, best-selling author, coach, speaker and registered financial consultant. He is the founder of MotivationandSuccess.com, StoriesofPerseverance.org, FinancingYourLife.com and TheRetirementInstitute.org.

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