Michigan tied with four other states for having the largest amount of fraud complaints per capita. This is a huge problem for Michigan consumers. Identity theft can leave you with immediate financial losses and with long-lasting credit damage. Because identity theft is so difficult to recover from, the best strategy is to prevent it.
10 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft Prevention in Michigan
While there’s no guarantee that you will never be the victim of identity theft, by taking certain security measures, you can make it less likely that your personal information will be stolen. Here are the top 10 tips that any Michigander can take to make himself a smaller target for identity theft.
Guard your Social Security card and number.
Don’t carry your Social Security card around with you. It’s probably the most important and sensitive document that you possess. Instead, lock it up in a safe place and only pull it out when absolutely necessary. Your Social Security number (SSN) is one the key elements of your entire identity. Only give it out to those who have a valid reason for needing it. If it’s necessary to provide your SSN on an online form, make sure that the site is secure.
Be wary of unsolicited calls and emails from businesses.
Often, people are not who they claim to be. It’s wise to keep this fact in mind if you receive an email or phone call from a company claiming to need information from you. Never reveal personal details to anyone unless you have confirmed that their request is legitimate. Also, if anyone ever asks for money to pay taxes on sweepstakes winnings, hang up the phone. It’s a scam.
Shred any trash that contains personal information.
Merely tossing sensitive documents in the trash is a bad idea. If you do this, you’re just asking a dumpster diver to steal your personal data. Old bills and even credit card offers should be shredded. You can invest in a home shredder, or just take your sensitive garbage to your local UPS or FedEx branch. For a small fee (normally, about $1.00 per pound), they’ll be happy to do the shredding for you.
Use caution when shopping online and in stores.
When making purchases online, you should make sure that you’re only providing payment information on sites that are verifiably secure. In stores, it’s a good idea to shield your pin number when paying at the counter. You never know who might be watching and trying to steal your payment information. At the gas station, if you’re paying at the pump, take the time to investigate the card reader. If anything seems strange, don’t put your card in. Identity thieves often install card “skimmers” over card readers in order to capture and use your account information.
Check your bank statements and credit reports often.
If identity theft occurs, you can minimize the damage by catching it quickly. This is why you should check your bank statement at least once a week. If you see withdrawals or debit charges that you didn’t make, you’ll know to take immediate action.
As for your credit reports, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus every twelve months. You can visit Experian.com, TransUnion.com, and Equifax.com to order credit reports individually, or get them all at www.annualcreditreport.com
Checking your credit reports will also give you an opportunity to find and dispute any errors that you find. Credit report errors are incredibly common, and these inaccuracies can hurt your credit score. Michigan consumers who need their credit reports cleaned up because of errors or fraudulent accounts left over from identity theft can get a FREE credit repair lawyer. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to accurate credit reports, Credit Repair Lawyers of America will help you protect this right, for free.
Don’t let identity theft issues and errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in cases that are settled. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (248) 353-2882 or contacting us on our contact page.