It is that time again. The beginning of a new year means taking time to reflect on the past year and making resolutions to improve your life for the coming year. Self-reflection is a great way to stay grounded and improve various aspects of your life, but beware. Each and every person vowing to make New Year’s resolutions may end up putting their identity at risk, unknowingly. Go ahead and make your New Year’s resolutions but pay attention to some key tips to help protect your information. After all, if you aren’t careful, New Year’s resolutions may jeopardize your identity.
Essential Ways to Protect Your Information While Making New Year’s Resolutions
Declutter Your Home- Inspect areas of your home that need decluttering and attack it with a vengeance. Perhaps you have closets overflowing with items you no longer wear. Or maybe you have old electronics that you could donate to more needy people. Regardless, before donating, make sure you have checked all the pockets of your clothes to ensure nothing valuable is in them. If you are selling items, never allow strangers to come to your home. Always meet the potential buyer in a very public, safe location.
If you are selling electronics such as an iPad, phones, or computers, make sure your personal information is fully erased by wiping clean the hard drives.
Organize Personal/Financial Data- It is a good idea to routinely organize your personal information/records to discard those no longer needed and organize what is pertinent. It is recommended you carefully inspect each paper (before discarding) that has information such as date of birth, credit card numbers, social security, and bank account information. Make sure you don’t just throw them away in your garbage, but shred any document containing personal information.
Organize your computer- Your computer has some very personal information on it so why not invest in the time to protect that information to reduce the risk of being targeted by hackers.
- Routinely update all antivirus and malware protection software
- Back up your hard drive
- Ensure your operating system is operating on the most recent update
Focus on Your Financial Situation- Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to focus on your financial health and reduce some of your debt. A significant part of financial health is to find ways to protect your identity while striving to reduce or get rid of looming debt. Below are some helpful tips for your consideration:
- Access your credit reports so you can see what your score is and look for ways to improve on that number. Review carefully for any errors and make sure all the loans and credit cards are indeed yours and not someone else’s.
- Utilize credit monitoring services so that if there are any red flags you will be notified quickly and can have them resolved just as fast.
- Set up strong passwords for your banking accounts and emails. You can manage these passwords by using a password manager.
Get in Shape- This is always a popular resolution with the coming of every new year but before you hit your local gym you need to be cautious when applying for a membership. Typically, you will be asked personal information when signing the paperwork such as date of birth, address, driver’s license copy, and perhaps a social security number. Make sure at the time of application you inquire about the gym’s safety protocol measures to ensure your information is protected.
Also, identity thieves target gyms, locker rooms, and parking lots in an effort to steal your identity. They eagerly look for ways to steal your wallets, purses or anything that has your personal information, along with money/valuables of course. Try not to bring that sort of information into the gym (and certainly don’t leave it visible in your car), but if you do for whatever reason, ask the gym what type of safety measures are in place such as cameras inside and outside, employee background checks, and routine inspection of areas. Lastly, bring a solid lock to lock your valuables in the locker room if you choose to bring them into the gym.
Make Your New Year’s Resolution and Protect Your Identity
All of the above tips are highly recommended as you begin to make your New Year’s resolutions, but if you still have questions or concerns, it is recommended you contact your local Alabama independent insurance agent for information on identity fraud protection coverage. In fact, Burkett & Associates is here to assist you in finding this type of insurance protection for identity theft and the costs associated with identity theft along with recovering your identity if stolen. The cost of protecting your identity is priceless! Call us TODAY at 256-704-7400.