You make healthy choices throughout your lifestyle, from eating a diet low in fat and salt to getting plenty of rest and 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. You even take care of your mental health, avoiding excess stress and spending as much time as possible with loved ones.
But how often do you consider your financial well-being, and how it could affect your overall health if something compromises it?
Financial matters are major stressors for many Americans, especially as the economy continues its slow climb out of recession and unemployment rates remain high. While you work to preserve your physical and mental health, it makes sense to take steps to protect yourself from one of the most disturbing and increasingly common types of financial problems – identity theft.
Nearly 12 million people experienced at least one attempted or successful incident of identity theft in the last year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Of that group, more than 2 million people rated the experience as severely distressing, the bureau reports. And having damaged credit could make it difficult to secure and pay for the services that help you preserve your physical health.
While nothing can ever guarantee you won’t be a victim of identity theft, you can take steps to minimize your risk. Give your financial well-being a workout with these identity theft prevention tips:
1. Monitor your credit report. Many identity theft prevention experts agree that checking your credit once a year isn’t enough. Consider using an identity theft protection product, like ProtectMyID, which monitors your credit, scans the Internet for your information, and alerts you to more than 50 indicators of fraud that may be a sign your identity has been compromised. The product also provides $1 million in insurance and assistance from identity theft resolution agents in the event your identity is compromised while you are a member.
2. Shred documents before disposing of them, including pre-approved credit card offers, convenience checks, balance forward checks, and anything that contains personal or financial information. Going through trash is still one of the most common ways identity thieves gain access to information.
3. Safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your SS card in your wallet, and never have the number imprinted on your driver’s license, personal checks or any other card. Be wary of who you give the number to. When an individual or company requests your SSN, you do not have to automatically share it. Ask them why they need it and if they will accept an alternate identifier.
4. Mail theft is another common tool of identity thieves; that is why ProtectMyID alerts members when a change of address action is taken. Use a locked, secure mailbox or P.O. Box for sending and receiving mail. When paying bills, consider paying online through your bank or the creditor’s secure websites.
5. Do not respond to unsolicited emails and never click on a link sent to you in an unsolicited email. Use a firewall and up-to-date antivirus software on your home PC and laptop.
Taking care of your physical and mental well-being just makes sense – and so does protecting your overall health and financial fitness by taking steps to prevent identity theft.