Identity Theft: Me & My Shadow
Brought to you by PNC Bank

5 simple ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

Where should you store your social security card?
How soon should you report and put a block on a lost credit card or debit card?
What is the “ABS” rule for identity theft protection?
How many copies of your credit report can you get for free each year?
Why is it so important to protect your identify?

Right!

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Credit Check Challenge

Take a few minutes the next time you're at a secure computer and request your free credit report. Review all of the balances and alerts. Who made credit checks about you? Are they all familiar to you? If you see anything strange, investigate it.

Get your credit report at annualcreditreport.com

GET YOUR FREE REPORTS

Session Q & A

  • You might be tempted to keep your social security card in your wallet in order to keep track of it. However, if you lose your wallet, that's like winning the lottery to an identity thief! You should get a safe deposit box to store your social security card, in addition to any other sensitive financial and/or legal documents.

  • As soon as you realize your wallet or cards are missing, you should contact your bank immediately to put a freeze on any accounts that could be compromised. Timing is the key to protecting your identity and your financial accounts in the event of a breach, so act fast!

  • Many banks offer identity theft monitoring services. You can sign up through your bank for that extra layer of protection, which is in the form of reporting tools and services to keep your identity safe. If you want to gain immediate access to your credit report, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com. There, if you notice any suspicious activity or false information, you can contact the credit reporting agency.

  • Original birth certificates, passports, original deeds to your property, wills, original copies of powers of attorney, insurance policies, contracts, stocks, bonds, and high value jewelry are all important things to secure in a safe deposit box. A good rule of thumb? Store important documents that are both challenging to replace and don't need to be accessed at a moments notice. If you're worried about putting originals away, you can always maintain copies of your important documents at home in a safe just in case. Better safe than sorry, right?

  • No. As long as you're requesting your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency, you can request your own credit report as many times as you'd like without affecting your score.

  • Yes. Although many credit monitoring products offer a guarantee of coverage in the event of a fraudulent charges, all policies put the burden of responsibility to prevent identity theft on you. Whether you have identity theft monitoring or not, your best protection against being liable for fraudulent charges is to keep an eye on all of your financial accounts regularly.

  • Check your credit report regularly, but at least three times a year, by taking advantage of your free reports from the credit reporting agencies. If you're in the process of rebuilding your credit or have reason to suspect you've been a victim of fraud, then you may want to check more often. I always encourage clients to check their credit reports before applying for any large loans like a car loan or home loan to ensure that your credit report is clear and clean.

  • Delete it. Spam it. Trash it. Don't respond to it. Whatever you do, do not reply with any sensitive personal information like your social security number, credit card number, or bank account numbers.

Adrianna Domingos-Lupher

Adrianna is the founder of the blog, Military Money Chica. She is an Air Force spouse, mother and an accredited Financial Counselor with over 6 years of experience in financial education and counseling. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of NextGen MilSpouse, the online destination for today’s military spouse. Adrianna lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters, who she refers to as “La Rubia y La Grande”.

Adrianna is the founder of the blog, Military Money Chica. She is an Air Force spouse, mother and an accredited Financial Counselor with over 6 years of experience in financial education and counseling. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of NextGen MilSpouse, the online destination for today’s military spouse. Adrianna lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters, who she refers to as “La Rubia y La Grande”.

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