Financial troubles are a major source of stress for many people. Your financial health is your safety net if your physical health fails you. So, while you focus on your physical health, it’s important to protect yourself from an increasingly common financial woe—identity theft.
In addition to exercise, a healthy diet, and the occasional vaccine, there are steps you can take toward minimizing your risk of identity theft. Give yourself a financial well-being workout by following these identity theft prevention tips:
- Monitor your credit report. Consider checking for unauthorized activity on your accounts through a credit or identity protection service for help with halting fraud. AAA offers identity monitoring to members who enroll in ProtectMyID©, which protects you by detecting signs of fraud and helping you resolve them.
- Protect your Social Security Number. Take your Social Security card out of your wallet and make sure it’s not printed on your checks or any other commonly used piece of identification. Share your Social Security Number only when necessary. When you receive requests for your SSN, ask how it will be used and if another form of identification is acceptable.
- Shred documents destined for disposal. This includes pre-approved credit card offers, convenience checks, account statements, and anything that contains personal or financial information. Going through the garbage is one of the most common ways identity thieves gain access to information.
- Send and receive smartly. Your mailbox is even more exciting than your garbage can to identity thieves. That’s why ProtectMyID® alerts members when a new address shows up on their credit profile. Consider using a locked, secure mailbox or a P.O. Box for sending and receiving mail. Avoid a paper trail altogether by switching to paying bills online through your bank or the creditor’s secure websites.
- Explore the Internet with care. Be smart about opening and responding to unsolicited emails and never click on a link sent to you by someone you don’t trust. Make sure your firewall and antivirus software are up-to-date on computers and digital devices.
The reasons for taking care of yourself physically are abundant and obvious, as are the reasons for protecting your financial health by taking steps to prevent identity theft. Just like preventing a cold, it’s not always a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” your personal information might be overexposed. You’ll be happy you took preventative measures should you find your financial health at risk.