Losing money is never fun, but losing money through identity theft is particularly unpleasant. At iMoneyCoach we are not doomsdayers, nor do we want to scare anybody into action. But we do feel responsible to encourage you to be alert and to be aware of things you can do to protect your finances.

How identity is stolen and ways to protect yourself:

  • Skimming – You are probably aware that thieves occasionally manage to put card readers on ATMs and gas station pumps to electronically grab your credit card information when you swipe your card there. But there is also technology out there that allows thieves to steal the information while your card is still in your wallet if it is the type of card you can use for “express pay” or holding near a reader to pay without actually swiping it. This video explores the danger of this type of skimming and shares how you can protect yourself.
  • Phishing – This type of identity theft can occur via the computer or phone. Phishing scams are those where thieves pretend to be a reputable company asking for your personal information or trying to get you to click links that will give them access to personal information on your computer. Here is a more in-depth look at phishing from Google.

How to find out if your identity has been compromised:

  • Credit report – You are eligible for one free credit report with information from all 3 credit bureaus each year. On your credit report you should look for any suspicious activity or accounts that may be listed that you did not open. Should you see anything out of the ordinary, be sure to call the credit reporting company to talk about the activity and find out what to do next. You can get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com (*please note that this is the only government-authorized site that the three credit bureaus are using, and there are imposter sites out there to avoid – more info here.

The underlying theme in identity theft and protection is to be aware. Know what the risks are and keep yourself informed. Do not freely give out your personal information. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Being conscious and informed about identity theft can help you keep yours safe.

The Federal Trade Commission has a site dedicated to sharing information about what identity theft is and what to do if your personal information has been stolen. You can read more on the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage about identity theft.

Remember, we don’t want to scare you into action or make you think the sky is falling. We are about being alert and being proactive in your life and finances. If you have any questions about identity theft or want to share any other tips and ideas you may have experience with, please leave a comment below.

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