It is no secret that Identity Theft is a real concern these days. We’ve had numerous attempts to clear out substantial amounts of money from our bank accounts; and as a young military couple with dreams of hopefully become homeowners eventually, the thought of our credit being damaged in seriously frightening. According to the 2011 FTC Report there were over 17,000 military consumer complaints, and 27% of those were related to identity theft. That is an astounding number that I can’t imagine has gone down significantly in the years since that last full report. So what can you do to protect yourself?
1. Research the type of protection your bank offers – If you’re lucky like we are, you belong to a bank that really takes care of protection your bank account and any credit cards you have through them. Be intentional about this and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your money and it deserves to be protected.
2. Monitor your Credit Score – Once a year you can pull up your credit score. Do it. You can request it from each of the three major companies – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Keep a couple years history of this in your files. Its not a full proof way to protect yourself, but keeping track of your numbers through the years is important.
3. Get Educated – The FTC has some amazing information about identity theft, warning signs, tips and tricks and just information. Information is power!
4. Try Lifelock – Lifelock is one of the premier identity theft protection companies! Think of them as an extra layer of protection between you and the bad guy. They have three different levels of protection to pick from, all of which include things like lost wallet protection, live member customer service and a $1million total service protection. Lifelock is offering military members one month free, a free gift and reduced monthly fees! Visit this link for all the information, plus your discount code.
5. Request an Active Duty Alert during deployment – Did you know that you can put an “Active Duty Alert” on your credit file. This is important because it requires creditors to verify your identity before they open an account in your name. These “alerts” are valid for a year. ‘Active Duty Alerts’ are easily activated by calling one of the three companies – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.