Online security is on everyone’s mind right now, and rightfully so. Although breaches at national companies have shown us no one is immune to hackers, we want to share these three tips in order to protect your identity.
1) Check your Credit Score and Credit Reports
The first step in protecting your identity is to check your free credit reports to look for signs of identity theft. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Review the reports for errors, correcting any you find, and any signs of identity theft.
2) Establish a login from socialsecurity.gov
Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ to establish a login before implementing a credit freeze. The Social Security Administration will ask questions from your Experian credit file, so a credit freeze will prevent you from setting up the login while it is in place.For those of you concerned about your Schwab account, we want you to know Schwab takes great care to protect against hackers and unauthorized account withdrawals. Click here to read a section of their website that discusses some of the protections they use and ways investors can protect their accounts.
Schwab offers a "token", at no charge, for online users in an effort to prevent fraudulent account access. Each time you login you must also input the 6-digit code that your token produces. This is known as two-step verification. No one can login without the code, which helps prevent account hacking. We encourage all Schwab online users to order a free token by calling Schwab at 1-800-435-4000.
3) Implement a credit freeze
This is sometimes called a security freeze, at each of those three credit bureaus we mentioned before. A credit freeze will stop the credit bureaus from releasing your credit information for new applications. Therefore, when an identity thief tries to open a credit account using your Social Security number, it will be declined. You will receive a PIN from each of the credit bureaus when you implement the freeze. The PIN is how you lift the credit freeze when you want to allow access to your credit bureau records for a legitimate purpose, so put your PIN someplace safe. See the yellow box on the left for links to implement a credit freeze.
In the past, placing a credit freeze for a minor or a young adult that did not yet have a credit file was difficult or impossible to do. Credit bureaus now allow a credit freeze in both of these situations, so consider protecting your children with a credit freeze as well.
- Content prepared by Blog Team at Worley Erhart-Graves Financial Advisors