April 25, 2014

Single Point of View | Identity Theft Protection

The recent Heartbleed security breach has heightened concern of identity theft. Below we highlight a few resources everyone should take into consideration so you can be proactive in protecting your identity. 
Also know that The Federal Trade Commission has a dedicated website with a lot of great information.  http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft 

Our View: Important Resources

1.  Monitor your Credit Report
Your credit report contains information detailing your credit history.  You should request a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus annually. You can access reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by simply going to www.annualcreditreport.com.  Each agency may have slightly different information reported to it. Sometimes people confuse their credit report with their credit score which is the actual numerical value assigned to what is found in your credit reports. Here is what to look for in your report:
  • Confirm that all addresses are places you lived, all employment information is accurate and that you recognize all accounts and loans even the ones in good standing. 
  • The accounts that have issues (adverse accounts) will be listed at the top of the report which you can dispute by clicking the button when reviewing online.
  • If you notice anything unusual even if it is a small amount, call the financial institution to report.

2. Identity Theft Protection Service
There are many identity theft protection services available.  Some of the benefits include:
  • Setting fraud alerts every 90 days with the credit bureaus
  • Removing your name from pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists which are targets for identity thefts
  • Help with contacting companies and replacing cards in the event that your wallet is stolen. 
  • Ongoing monitoring of your credit reports.
One of the most popular services is LifeLock (www.lifelock.com) which is approximately $10 a month and up depending on the type of service you use.  We recommend it for those who have experienced identity theft, making them more vulnerable to future occurrences.

3. Password Management Software
Password management software securely stores your login information for all the websites you use.  Some have additional features such as:
  • You only have to remember one password.  
  • Eliminates passwords being scribbled on a piece of paper or other non-secure places.
  • Keeping other personal details safe including driver's license, identity cards, bank card details, etc. 
  • Ability to share your passwords with a trusted person who can access your private information in the case of your death or incapacitation.
In general this type of software is a good idea since your passwords are stored in a secure place, not scribbled on a piece of paper next to your computer. We have experience with Password Box ( http://usat.ly/1c2vwqi). Here is a review of many of the password managers:www.pcmag.me/a/2407168