For many people the first step in buying a home is getting a home loan. Imagine this…. You find your dream home. A beautiful home with all the amenities you could imagine. You go to the bank to get a loan so that you can finally purchase that dream home. The bank tells you that they cannot give you a loan because you have bad credit. This is confusing to you because you don’t have any risky spending habits and pay all your bills on time. You later find out that you have become a victim of identity theft.
Identity theft is an unfortunate event but there are many steps that you can take in order to help protect yourself.
- 1. Guard your privacy- Don’t share personal information (your address, phone numbers, social security number, date of birth or birth place) on social networks. Don’t fall prey to scams that ask for personal information over email.
- 2. Install security features- If you keep personal or financial documents on your computer, install a firewall, use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, use a secure wireless network and make sure your browser is always up-to-date.
- 3. Keep your personal and financial information secure-Whether you keep it in a filing cabinet or online in the cloud, make sure you secure it with a key or a strong password.
- 4. Always use strong passwords online- change them periodically too.
- 5. Shred what you don’t need- Destroy documents, bills, receipts, and junk mail that you don’t need, especially if it contains your personal information.
- 6. Check your mail- Never leave mail in your mailbox for a long period of time. If you’re going on vacation, request a hold from the U.S. postal Service to stop mail delivery until you return.
- 7. Keep an eye out for unauthorized activity in your bank and credit card accounts. Online banking makes it easy to check your active as often as you wish. Also, be sure to check the information on your credit report to make sure it is correct.