Resolve to Protect Your Identity in 2017

When you are making your new year’s resolutions, AAA has a great one to add to your list: Resolve to protect your identity.  
Millions of identities are stolen every year, creating financial troubles for victims. Troubles include loan denials, tarnished credit, and depleted bank accounts. Cleaning up the mess and making good on losses can be a real burden. 
While there’s no way to completely protect yourself from identity theft, you can reduce your risk, and there are ways to make recovery less burdensome.
How to Lower Your Risk
Identity thieves typically start by stealing your personal information. To start wreaking havoc, all an identity thief needs is your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
Here are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim. 
  • Keep your Social Security number to yourself. 
  • Only open emails from trusted senders, and delete anything that looks suspicious. 
  • Never share your online passwords, and make your passwords as hard for others to guess as possible. Remember that many identity thieves know their victims: so a pet’s name or a child’s birthday may not be as secure as you think.
  • Shred your financial documents before throwing them away. 
  • If someone makes an offer that’s too good to be true, and all they need from you is money, a bank account number, or personal information, it’s usually fraud.
If It Happens to You
There’s nothing shameful about being a victim of identity theft. It happens to tens of millions of people a year. The key is taking action as soon as you notice it. If you view your report and see accounts you didn’t open, contact the credit bureau that reported it and the company that initiated the account.
If you use an identity theft protection product, like ProtectMyID offered through AAA, you’ll get an alert when a key change is detected on your credit report. Getting on top of a fraudulent account right away helps mitigate the damage it can cause, and a dedicated fraud resolution agent can help you. With some patience and effort, you should be able to reverse the damage to your financial reputation.