I am constantly seeing articles and blogs that ID protection is not a necessity. These might be called “The Poor Man’s Guide to Identity Theft Protection,” or “Identity Theft Protection Doesn’t Work.” Though some of the things mentioned in these articles are true, overall, they are totally missing the point.
Here is the situation. You cannot possibly protect yourself from every type of identity theft out there, and when you can, it really requires a lot of work. No matter what, it’s going to be time-consuming, can cost you money, and even make you pretty anxious.
For those who have chosen not to make an investment into identity theft protection say that they don’t have to because they can do it themselves. Here is what they do:
Shred Your Mail, and Be Safe
One of the things that people do to make sure their identity is safe is to always shred their mail. This is especially important when the mail contains account info. However, this step isn’t enough. Yes, you might be doing your part, but how can you be sure that your mortgage company, bank, or even water company is not simply throwing paperwork with your account information in a dumpster. Once it’s there, anyone can take it.
Opt Out of Junk Mail and Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Opting out of pre-approved credit card offers and other junk mail is pretty easy to do. You can do it right online at OptOutPrescreen.com. Just keep in mind that some of them will still get through and end up in your mailbox and maybe get stolen.
Pay for a P.O. Box
I’m not totally sure why people believe that it is safer to use a P.O. box, but they do. Technically, your mail is more secure at the Post Office than in your mail box, but it really doesn’t help too much. Otherwise get a locking mailbox.
Check Credit Reports
You should always be checking your credit report, but those who think they can stop ID theft by checking their credit report are not quite correct. Once you see a problem on your credit report, the damage has already been done. Ideally, you should check your report more than once a year, but you can get a free credit report online at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Set Up a Fraud Alert
Another thing that people do because they think it protects them from ID theft is set up fraud alerts. Fraud alerts are good, but they are only valid for 1 year, and most people forget to renew them. On top of this, they are simply guidelines for creditors, and they don’t even have to contact you if they see a fraud alert.
People also believe that they are totally safe if they freeze their credit. This is a good thing, and I do think everyone should look into it, but it doesn’t protect you from all types of ID theft. This includes account takeovers, tax-related ID theft, and medical ID theft.
Though all of these things can help, and in some cases, can greatly help, they are no replacement for professional identity theft service. Instead, they can put you in a tough position.
ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.