Okay, kids. The name of the game is Keep your Identity
and you've just won the first round. Truth is though ... this is one game you don't want to lose ... ever!
Follow these three steps to lock up your data and keep tabs on your credit and you should be able to keep your good name forever.
- Dry up junk mail. Thieves use your pre-approved credit-card offers to open accounts in your name, which is the hardest type of ID theft to detect.
- Go paperless. Shredding will eliminate your paper trail. Even easier is to receive and pay bills online, which ensures that info can't be lifted from stolen mail. Plus, with 24-hour account access, you'll see an unauthorized charge on your card right away.
- Watch over your credit. It's easy to request a free report from one of the big three bureaus every four months at annualcreditreport.com. Want more oversight? For $5 a month, Triple Alert will monitor your credit and alert you to any changes.
Even better is a credit freeze
, but just 25 states currently allow it, in some cases (ironically) only for ID theft victims.