Did you know that you are 25 times more likely to have your identity stolen than your car? It's true—in fact, the Federal Trade Commission expects that 12 to 15 million people in the U.S. will be victims of identity theft or fraud this year alone. These criminals are out there, Jean says, and it's important to protect yourself before it's too late. Jean talks to Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock and an identity theft expert, about what you need to know—and do—to avoid identity theft.
- Know that credit card companies are not always on your side, Todd says. Remember, they are running a business, and they want you to run up charges and apply for new cards.
- Contact all three credit bureaus and tell them that you want to place a fraud alert on your account. Anyone can take this step to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud, Todd says. Then, stay on top of it because it will expire in 90 days, so you'll have to renew again. It's a quick phone call that is well worth it.
- Remove yourself from credit card offers. Opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT to stop those unsolicited credit card applications from showing up in your mail.
- Shred your documents. It isn't a foolproof method, Todd says, but it is helpful, especially if you invest in a good-quality machine.
- If you do become a victim, time is of the essence. File a police report immediately, and go to the FTC website to register yourself as a victim. Then, pull your credit reports so that you can begin repairing the damage.