Everyone is on the lookout for identity thieves these days and worried about monitoring their information as well. Some people spent hundreds of dollars a month to have a company monitor their information and their credit, but what if you don’t have extra money to spend? Well, there are some free ways that you can easily monitor your identity to be sure that no one has swiped it and is using your name and information.
Keep Up With Your Credit
Once a year you can gain a free credit report from each of the three bureaus. You also are entitled to a free copy from each if you are turned down for a loan, a credit card, or any other type of credit that is based on your credit scores. Usually you have to request these in writing, which does take a bit, but it gives you free peeks at what’s going on through each of the three credit bureaus.
You can see who is checking your credit, what’s being placed on there, and quickly see if anything has been placed on there that you aren’t aware of. If so, you can then dispute it and start to monitor it more closely to be sure that someone isn’t using your identity.
If you want to know what your score is right now, you can always go to Credit Karma and sign up for their free service. You will need to sign up to be a member of their site, but you will then be able to check your credit scores completely free. This can give you a fast peek at what’s going on before you head out anywhere that you might need your credit, such as a car dealership.
Comb Through Those Card Statements
This isn’t just for your credit card, it includes your bank cards as well. You want to watch your credit card and bank card statements like a hawk. By keeping a very close eye on these, you can quickly see if someone has snagged your information and has been using it before you get slammed too hard.
To do this, you want to open these statements as soon as you get them and go through each charge on them. Make sure that you call immediately about any charges that you are unsure of or that you know you did not make. The credit card company can tell you exactly where and when a charge was placed on your card.
Keep Your Snail Mail On A Leash
Too many times, identity thieves target people’s mail boxes because they know they aren’t checked often. Make sure that you are checking your mail box on a daily basis, as soon as you can after the mail has run, or get a locking mail box.
If you are going out of town, you can ask the post office to hold your mail for you until you return or get a friend to pick it up for you. Thieves can tell if you’re gone easier if your mail stacks up in the box, and it gives them more of a selection to look through when they grab it before you do.
Become A Master Shredder
Paper shredders aren’t nearly as expensive as they were a few years ago, and you can easily find them at your local discount store, any office supply store, or online. Many paper shredders fit right over your trash can, so you don’t even have to have a large storage space for them.
You want to get in the habit of shredding documents that you no longer need, such as old bank or credit card statements, doctor’s bills, utility bills, and any other document that might have account numbers, your social security number, or other personal information. If you shred your documents, identity thieves are left with nothing if they dig through your trash.
Free Programs Are Great
There are plenty of identity theft protection services out there that offer free trials to their programs, such as Lifelock. Usually, these are companies that rank up toward the top of the best identity theft protection services available today and offer great plans as well as customizable services.
Those that offer free trials usually offer 30-day trials of their services, which is plenty of time to use their services as well as see how their plans stack up to your budget. If you still aren’t sure after your trial is over, you can always cancel.
I personally recommend that you do all of these things and consider using one of the best identity theft protection plans that you can, such as those from Lifelock. All of these tips are designed to help you monitor your credit, your information, and your identity for free, but only the companies that monitor your identity 24 hours a day can help you prevent a lot of identity thieves fast.
I always hate to see people who find out about their identity being stolen after it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you, follow these quick five steps and you will be able to find any mistakes or problems before they get too out of control.
Chris Holdheide has seen firsthand the devastation that identity thieves can cause after working in the financial services industry. He encourages everyone to be proactive in their approach to identity theft. It’s for this reason that he created Stumble Forward, to help people all over the world learn the importance of protecting their identity and their information. If you would like to learn more about identity theft, visit StumbleForward.com.