I saw this story today about a "modern day Bonnie and Clyde" who have stolen the identities of friends and neighbors in the Philadelphia area.
In a recent statement to the public, Steve Ely, Equifax's President of Personal Information Solutions (Equifax is one of the three major credit bureaus) said:
"Consumers should not wait until they have become a victim to take steps to protect themselves. A proactive approach is the best way for consumers to protect themselves and minimize damage to their credit and financial health."
He's right! and we all know how id theft seems to be running rampant - and these unscrupulous thieves are targeting...of course...the most vulnerable members of our communities. So, in the spirit of covering our bums, here are some resources and advice for protecting your nest eggs, identities and saving your good credit!
Some advice for limiting the risk of identity theft from Equifax, AARP and other credit savvy minds includes:
- Limit the number of credit cards you carry - better yet, carry only what you need in your wallet or purse.
- Protect your social security number like it's baby! Don't give it to strangers, don't give it out on the phone unless you know who you're talking to, and certainly don't carry your card with you unless it's absolutely necessary.
- When in doubt - shred it! Your local AARP office might hold shredding parties where you can bring all of your sensitive documents for safe disposal. Visit www.aarp.org. for more information.
Depending on your personal needs, you may want to consider freezing your credit report with the three major credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experion). If that sounds a bit extreme - or maybe you're house hunting or car shopping and you need regular access to your credit report - consider a credit monitoring services.
Equifax has a nifty identity theft protection product, Equifax ID Patrol. ID Patrol lets you: lock/ unlock your Equifax credit file, receive alerts if your Social Security/ credit card numbers are found on Internet trading sites, access a trained ID Theft Resolution Specialist 24/7, and receive credit monitoring and alerts within 24 hours to key changes in credit files. Learn more at www.equifax.com/idpatrol and get other great tips for protecting your identity here.