Identity Theft sucks! There really is no nice way to put it. When you find out your identity has been stolen the world pretty much stops turning and you are faced with fear, worry, trauma and so much more it is hard to put into words.
I found out my identity had been stolen in the most inopportune way. There really is no good time to find out that someone is using your identity. Finding out with your brand new Husband when you are being added to his bank account = no fun at all.
John and I had just gotten married and were taking the big step of adding each other to our bank accounts. We are standing in the bank and the teller tells me she can’t add me to John’s account because my credit is horrible. I saw red, I mean serious fireworks shooting out of my head anger instantly. I nicely asked what in the world she was talking about. Prior to walking into the bank I thought my credit was fantastic. I had never missed a payment, always paid more than I needed to and did not have very much debt.
Of course at this point I decide to look at my lovely Husband who has this look I can’t even describe on his face. He told me later he was instantly wondering what the heck was happening and if he had missed a conversation about my credit that we should have had. I reassured him that I had no idea what was happening but I would get it fixed!
Well it seems someone decided that my social security number would help them pay their cell phone and electric bills. I had collection charges for someone back east on my credit statement and they were not pretty. My credit score was ridiculous. I mean seriously give me some tissues I am going to sob for a while crazy low.
I ended up spending days working to get my credit repaired and fix the situation. Since this incident I try and do everything I possible can to prevent my credit being stolen again.
Here are my tips on preventing Identity Theft
1. Invest in a quality shredder
I was recently introduced Fellowes 73Ci shredder and it is amazing. This shredder is crazy cool! I never thought I would have a touch screen shredder. Let alone one that senses when your hand gets close to the opening.
The Fellowes 73Ci is 100 % jam proof! It eliminates paper jams and powers through tough jobs like no shredder I have used before. I no longer open up each and every credit card offer that comes in. I just drop them in the shredder and poof they are history.
This shredder is one crazy piece of office equipment that I am so excited to use. I know that it is going to power through and eliminate my ever growing pile of papers to shred. Now I can shred 12 sheets at a time and they are chopped into tiny little pieces.
The Fellowes 73Ci Shredder is available at office superstores and online for a suggested retail price of $199.99.
Wondering how long to keep certain documents. USA.Gov has a great list for managing household records.
2. Check your credit yearly if not more often.
You can request free yearly credit reports from the 3 main credit bureaus. Check to make sure you do not have any issues on your report. If you find mistakes make sure you immediately report them to the credit bureaus. Order your free annual credit reports on-line at: www.annualcreditreport.com
3. Protect your passwords
Make sure your passwords are not your birthday, pets name, address, high school or any information that is readily available on social media.
4. Check your bank statements, credit card statements and other bills frequently.
The faster you find an issue the less time it has to cause issues with your credit.
5. Keep receipts and confirm you are charged the right amount.
Lately we have been finding discrepancies in how much we are charged at restaurants versus how much is on our receipt. We have had to call multiple restaurants to find out why we were over-charged. Without our copies of the receipts we would not have been able to prove that we were over charged.
6. Monitor your mail
Get a locked mail box or make sure your mail is not accessible. If you are going on vacation stop your mail and have it delivered after you are home. Drop outgoing mail in a federal mail box so you know it is not out in the public.
Call and request to be removed from mailing lists and pre-authorized credit card offers.
If you do become the victim of identity theft make sure you immediately call to report it to your credit cards, the credit bureaus and your bank. Keep a detailed list of everyone you talk to.
I hope these tips help prevent another case of identity theft!
We were provided with a shredder to help facilitate our review. All opinions expressed are my own.