Shopping online.  Buying gas.  In nearly all of the things we do from day to day, there’s the risk of identity theft.

ID theft has soared to nearly 18 million victims a year in the U.S.  If this happens to you, fully straightening out your records could take about 6 months and 200 hours of work.

Here are 10 sensible habits to adopt that will help you protect your identity:

  1. Limit what you carry in your wallet, and know what’s there in case it goes missing.  Make photocopies of all cards you carry in your wallet and store copies in a safe place in case all or one of them goes missing.
  2. Keep your computers, software and other electronics secure and up to date. Use strong passwords.  Keep everything backed up.
  3. Don’t over share. Will the last 4 digits of your social security number do in lieu of the entire number?
  4. Do check your credit reports throughout the year. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the 3 bureaus once a year.
  5. Keep an eye on your accounts. Your account statements can alett you to identity theft sooner than your credit report in most cases.
  6. Watch your surroundings. Whether you’re using the ATM or a portable device, be sure others nearby aren’t watching as your type in your PIN or password.
  7. Reduce your mail. Use paperless billing when available.  You may opt out of pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT.
  8. Be skeptical when someone asks for your information.
  9. Mind your garbage. Invest in a shredder for your home
  10. Tidy up at home. Tax returns, credit cards you use infrequently, checkbooks, passports, birth certificates – these and other important documents should all be stored under lock and key.

Despite your best efforts, you may still discover that your identity has been stolen.  If so, take immediate action to:

  • Fill out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Take the affidavit to the police and file a report.
  • Call your financial providers to request new account numbers and cards.
  • Contact 1 of the 3 credit bureaus to place a fraud alert. The bureau you contact will share it with the other two.

Most importantly, before you think your security has been violated, contact your NAUGHT-NAUGHT AGENCY agent to determine if Identity Recovery Coverage is already contained in your homeowners policy – or if you need to add it.


(Taken from