Like the rest of the United States, people living in Arizona within the last few years have experienced several identity theft scams. Some of these events may have caused forced errors in Arizona credit scores and reporting, illuminating the need for Americans to more actively protect their credit. Besides receiving your free annual credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, here are the 5 steps everyone should take to protect their credit.
Step 1. Monitor your accounts daily.
The more comfortable you are with using your debit cards and credit cards, the more often you should monitor your accounts. Do not wait until you get your statements to check balances and transactions, this can delay your knowledge of any suspicious activities or unauthorized charges.
Step 2. Secure your accounts and devices.
Make sure that you have legitimate PIN numbers and change them every so often in case they do fall into dangerous hands. Choose passwords for your phone, laptop, and access to your online accounts wisely. Too often, we choose passwords that are easy to remember, but these passwords are also easy for other people to guess. Do not share your PIN or passwords with anyone, even personal bankers.
Step 3. Shred informative documents you no longer need.
Your parents probably always suggested you should do this and it may seem old fashioned, but shredding, cutting, or tearing documents is an easy, standard piece of advice. Think of what a simple bank statement contains:
- Your full name
- Personal Address
- Your account numbers
- Your account activities and balances
- Joint account owners.
With all of this information, it would be easy for thieves sorting through your trash to get access to your funds and identity. Invest in a cheap shredder and destroy old statements, bills, and receipts that reveal too much personal information and that you no longer need.
Step 4. Be on alert for scams.
Thieves phish for your information in several different ways. Whether it is through traditional mail, e-mail, or over the phone, be weary of anyone that you are not talking to face-to-face. Messages that they send may address you by name and look like they are really coming from your bank or favorite retail stores, but this is them showing how much information they already have on you. They might even send links to authentic-looking websites, but instead of using the link, navigate to the website the way in which you normally would, or stop by the bank or store at your soonest convenience.
Step 5. Be careful online.
Besides online passwords and fraudulent e-mails, you also have to be careful with the way you shop online. Online shopping becomes more and more popular every year because of its instant access, variety, and price comparisons, but even some legitimate sites are not doing enough to protect your information. A trustworthy website should encrypt your information (companies with a URL beginning with “https” and/or has a padlock icon next to it, indicates it has security measures in place). Also, try to avoid public wi-fi when making purchases or monitoring your accounts.
Arizona Credit Lawyers – Gary Nitzkin
3260 N. Hayden Road, Suite 210
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Phone: 480-771-6001 / 480-771-6001