Each year, more than 12 million Americans become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft affects everyone from college students to senior citizens, and it can destroy an individual's ability to obtain a loan, rent a home, or buy a car. In some cases, the victims of identity theft are even responsible for the costs accumulated by the thief, such as credit card charges or rental property damage. Moving to a new home may temporarily increase your risk of experiencing identity theft, but following the tips below can help keep your personal information safe.
Keep Calls Private
When you move to a new home, you have to relay personal information to numerous parties. Utility companies typically want your social security number and date of birth, and you may have to read your credit card numbers over the phone to pay deposits or installation fees. If you call to tell your healthcare providers and kids' schools about the new home, a thief may overhear your address, health-insurance ID, or other identifying information. Here's how you can prevent this from happening:
- Update information in person, when possible
- Change addresses and phone numbers online, from your personal computer, when nobody else is around
- Avoid making phone calls that require personal information while you are in public or within earshot of your neighbors
Strangers aren't the only ones who commit identity theft. Exercise caution when making phone calls in front of anyone, including family members and friends.
Limit Counter Clutter
Where do you put your mail when it arrives? Many people toss it on the counter or hang it on the fridge, which is fine if you live alone and never have visitors stop by. During a move, you may have more people than usual in your home, especially if you are showing it to prospective renters and buyers or having it appraised and inspected. Designate a specific folder or drawer for paperwork with identifying information, and keep your documents tucked away until everyone goes home.
Transport Important Documents Yourself
Numerous things can go wrong during a move, although hopefully everything goes smoothly when your moving day arrives. Bad weather may cause another vehicle to hit the moving truck, which can send your personal belongings flying all over the road. Several recent news stories reference U-Haul thefts, which means you have to remember to keep your vehicle locked at all times. These situations compromise the safety of your personal data, but you can minimize the risk of identity theft by transporting vital documents yourself, in your personal vehicle.
There is no way to completely eliminate the risk of identity theft, but the aforementioned ideas can reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Be careful when you discuss private information around other people, and hire a team of reputable movers from a company that does background checks. If you're looking for a moving company in your area, consider one like Frank and Sons Moving and Storage Inc. Agent for Wheaton World Wide Moving.