Protect Yourself From Identity Theft In Seven Simple Steps

You might find it pretty shocking to hear that around nine million Americans have their identity stolen each year. That is a pretty large number of people, so could you be next? A lot of the time there are things that we could be doing to avoid this. It is not right for someone wandering around pretending to be you; not right at all. So in order to make more of a conscious effort to protect your identity, here are some steps that you can take.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft In Seven Simple Steps - identity theft image


  • Protect Personal Information
    • In the US, a social security number is what you need to avoid others knowing. Don’t keep it in your wallet or share it with other people. The same goes for things like passports and banking details. Keep them somewhere secure, rather than having them accessible to others. Look to get ID documents that will have your biometrics on, like the Indian e-Aadhar card, for example. Those kinds of ID are much harder to defraud.
  • Change Your Passwords
    • Even if you live alone and don’t share your computer, you should be locking out of sites and programs and changing your passwords regularly. Choose passwords that are more safe, such as random words, rather than meaningful ones like your mother’s maiden name.
  • Clear Your Wallet
    • If you have cards or bank accounts that you simply do not use anymore, then cut up the cards into small pieces and cancel the accounts. Doing this often will help to protect you from identity fraud.
  • Check Bills and Statements Closely
    • Although it can feel like a nuisance to keep receipts and bills, it is so important to check on. If you check your bills and bank statements regularly, and match them to your spending, you can easily identify if people have used your card or found the details online. So check them closely and report any suspicious activity.
  • Use Computer Protection
    • There are many hackers that want to easily steal your information online. And if you don’t have any virus or malware protection software in place, then it can make it really easy for people to steal from you or take your online data. So get the software and regularly check it. It also pays to only use secure sites that have https in the address bar when buying things, rather than just http.
  • Get a Shredder
    • If you get a letter through the mail that isn’t any use or something you don’t need; don’t just throw it in the bin. Shred it. Even from a letter, you don’t need, it will have your name and address clearly printed on it. So shred any documents that you don’t need. Bank statements, payslips, or even insurance letters. If you no longer need them, make sure that you shred them.
  • Use a Free Credit Report Checker
    • Taking advantage of a free credit report is a good way to spot anything untoward. If someone has tried to apply for a credit card in your name, then it would show up on there. So check this regularly and report anything that wasn’t done by you.


All you need to know about online credit checks

Unless you’re a millionaire, whenever you make large purchases, notably for a house or car, you will need credit. Few of us have enough money laying in wait in the bank to buy a brand new car, let alone a house, outright; we need a loan to buy these things. And to get a loan, our credit history is given a thorough once over. Every time you apply for a loan or credit it is noted on your credit history. Too many applications and you risk looking dodgy, fraudulent or in financial trouble. Whatever conclusion is drawn, chances are you will be offered a highly unattractive interest rate of will be refused the loan or credit outright.

But few of us actually know what our credit history looks like. You can get a free online credit check from sites such as Credit Expert and finally get to see what financial institutions see. But before you get this free online credit check, you need to know exactly what a credit report looks like and how you should interpret it.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is basically your financial history. It is made up from two main sources. The first comes from public records, such as electoral roll information, court judgements, individual voluntary arrangements and bankruptcies. The second is based on financial information from banks, credit accounts, credit applications and financial associations.

What is a credit rating?

Once all the relevant information has been gathered, financial institutions will give you a credit rating. This is based on your financial history; things such as unpaid loans, late payments and even the size of the loans themselves will affect your credit history. You shouldn’t be afraid of your credit rating as it can be both good and bad, furthermore, there are things you can do to change it. The rating is there to help lenders lend profitably, but also responsibly.

What influence does a credit rating have?

Your credit rating, whether good or bad, will determine whether you get a loan, mortgage or credit; it will dictate whether you are included or excluded from certain offers and promotions as well as services and products. It can also affect employment prospects and whether you get a roof over your head.

Why should you have a credit rating check?

Everyone should take a healthy interest in their credit rating as a good rating can give you access to the lowest interest rates and best financial promotions. However, a poor credit rating can have devastating effects and mean you might not be able to get the home of your dreams. If you can get a free online credit check, you haven’t got anything to loose so you might as well give it a go.

Your credit rating is constantly updated in accordance with your changing financial situations, so it’s important to keep on top of these changes so if any problems arise you can deal with them before they become credit barriers.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, ID theft is becoming increasingly common and costs the UK £2.7 billion. However, it takes the average Brit 15 months to discover their identity has been stolen. A credit check can quickly reveal the truth and allow you to do something about it. Get more information on identity theft and how to protect yourself from it from Crime Stoppers.