Identity theft causes a host of issues and can derail your plans to buy a home. Whether or not you’re planning to purchase a house soon, having your identity stolen can impact your credit and cause significant stress. Even the savviest consumers are at risk of data breaches, so it’s crucial to be aware of what to do if you’ve noticed fraudulent activity or been notified of possible security breaches. Don’t let your plans for the future be hindered by identity theft. Here, I share strategies to prevent fraud from occurring and outline the steps to take if your personal information has already been compromised.
Ways to prevent identity theft
Although you can’t control every data breach, there are preventative measures you can take to help protect your identity:
• When creating new accounts, be sure to set strong passwords that are unique to each account.
• Store your Social Security number in a secure location; avoid carrying it with you.
• Remove your birth date from social media accounts.
• Stay on top of purchases you’ve made on credit or debit cards and be aware of all open accounts.
What to do if your identity is stolen
Recovering from a security breach requires swift action. Once you’ve noticed fraudulent or suspicious activity, don’t delay in reaching out to affected creditors and banks. It’s also essential to contact the three credit bureaus to put a freeze on your credit and request fraud alerts. You can find the contact information for each credit bureau here.
Identity theft should be taken seriously, but it’s often overwhelming to start the recovery process. If you’re not sure what to do, visit identitytheft.gov to view a comprehensive list of steps to take. Here, you’ll find checklists and sample letters to help take back your identity and reduce stress along the way.
With sophisticated hacks on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take preventative measures to keep your identity protected. Keeping personal records safe is important for everyone, but especially so if your goal is to purchase a home in the coming months.
By Michaela Phillips. Michaela is the Vice President of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, Inc. Contact Michaela at 303.443.6292, e-mail [email protected] or visit michaelaphillips.com.