In preparation for Protect Your Identity Week, October 16-22, now is the time to assess how you handle documents that contain your personal information. This includes medical records, bank statements, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers. Unless you know how to erase them well, even old cell phones and computers can contain vulnerable personal data.
For a safe and secure way to dispose of these items, you’re encouraged to attend a free Secure Your Identity event during the week of Oct 15 or 22.
Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, along with community partners, will be holding these events in Fresno, CA; Arnold, MO; Webster Groves, MO; Balwinsville, NY; Tigard, OR and Midlothian, VA.
With just a little bit of knowledge, a thief can assume your identity, open accounts, obtain goods or services in your name and leave you to deal with the aftermath. This crime can temporarily lower your credit ratings making it harder to obtain credit and take you months to repair the damage, wasting money from your household budget.
To help avoid becoming a victim of ID theft, make sure to routinely file or shred items containing personal information so they are not left out for prying eyes. Neighbors, friends, workers coming into the home and relatives might be trusted, but you may not know what they are going through that would tempt them to try and gain access to new credit sources or your accounts. Locking file cabinets with personal financial data is also recommended.
For more ways to help protect your identity, the Federal Trade Commission offers an invaluable free, downloadable PDF booklet, Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft.