Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Websites to Help Protect Your Identity

If you are like most people, you probably feel as though your identity has been sold so many times that everyone in the world must have your name, address, Social Security number and other private information by now.  Identity theft is an ongoing problem and it seems to get worse every day.

However, there are still a few things you can do to protect yourself.  While no system is perfect, with the help of a few websites you can at least reduce the amount of information that can be used against you.

The first step you need to take is to limit the amount and kinds of information about yourself that is available.  Next, you need to know how to check your credit information to make sure it is correct and has not been contaminated by a company's carelessness or by someone who has been using your identity for their own purposes.  Then, learn how to keep your personal information private whenever you use social media.  Finally, consider using a credit tracking company to protect your identity in the future.  Below is the information you will need to do these things.

How to Get Yourself Off Phone and Mailing Lists

Everyone should contact the services below and have their name removed from as many lists as possible.  Start with these free services:

To Remove Your Name from Direct Mailing Lists:

or write:
DMA Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY  10512

For Telemarketing Lists - Use the Government Do Not Call List:

Remove the name of deceased individuals, whose identity is frequently stolen:

Opt out of pre-approved credit offers:
1-888-5 OPT OUT

Remove your email address from internet or email ads:

How to Check Your Credit Reports

Everyone is entitled to free copies of their credit reports.  It is important that you check yours several times a year to make sure no one is taking out credit cards or opening accounts in your name.  You can contact the credit bureaus directly or you can contact them all at once by using the single service listed below.  Do NOT pay to get your credit reports.  If anyone asks for your credit card information, you are on the wrong site.

Another site that provides free credit reports and will help monitor credit applications in your name is

A third site that allows you to check your credit scores is  They will also monitor your accounts and you can join for free.  They also update credit scores and credit reports every day, so your information is always as current as possible.

Learn How to Keep Your Information Private on Social Media

Both the police and criminals have become adept at using social media.  The police use it to catch criminals; the criminals use it to find victims.  You do not want to make yourself an easy victim.

Read the privacy information on sites like Facebook.  Make sure you use the tightest privacy settings possible.

Do not become Facebook friends with people that you do not know very well.  Unfriend people who you suspect are sharing your posts with strangers.

Just to be extra careful, do not post detailed personal information on social media, especially your travel plans.  Wait to post photos of your trips until after you get back home.  You do not want strangers to know that you are out-of-town.

In addition, reset your passwords periodically, especially if you think your account has been hacked.

Services that Protect Your Credit

In addition, if you are still concerned that your private information might be stolen, use a service like LifeLock.  For a monthly fee, they will give you your credit rating or report to you any attempt to open an account or credit card in your name.  If you are the person who opened the account, then there is no problem.  If you weren't the person, then you will be alerted and take immediate action.

A free service which will also give you free credit reports and monitor credit applications that are made in your name is Credit Karma. 

Take Action to Protect Your Identity

With so many hackers and other criminals, it is important for all of us to do everything we can to protect our identity.  While we would like to think that the government and corporations are doing it for us, the truth is that they are not doing a good job of protecting us.  We have to make sure we do everything we can on our own.

Another step you can take is to ask your bank and credit card companies to send you new cards that contain chip technology rather than the "old-fashioned" strips.  The chips are much harder to hack.

If you are looking for more information to help with your financial planning or other information of use to retirees, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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1 comment:

  1. There's a lot of great information here. One of the things that caught my eye was getting the names of deceased relatives off the lists. I never would have thought of that! Thanks for a terrific article.


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