ID Theft Prevention:
Monitor Your Financial Accounts and Credit Information

One way to protect yourself from identity theft is to monitor all of your financial account activities by checking over your monthly credit and banking statements, asking for your credit report, and maintaining careful records of your activities. This ensures that if someone does get hold of your personal information and starts using it to access your banking and credit accounts or open up other accounts in your name, you will find out quickly to minimize damage and stop the process of identity theft.


Monitor Your Account Statements

Check your financial information regularly. Unless otherwise specified in your account options, you should be receiving monthly statements from your banks and credit card companies detailing your account activities. If you are not getting one or all of these statements, this is a cause for concern. Contact your financial institution and ask about it. If you're told that your statements are being mailed to an alternate address that you didn't authorize, tell them that you didn't authorize this address and someone may be improperly using your account. Put a fraud alert on your account and ask for copies of all the statements you didn't receive. These will help you determine any fraudulent charges or activities on your account.

Your monthly bank and credit card statements can be useful tools in detecting signs of identity fraud. Many of us treat these valuable tools as junk mail - glancing at them briefly then throwing them out; but for your own protection and piece of mind, review them carefully. If you have arranged not to receive your statements over mail or email, make sure to go to your web account monthly and check your online statements. Look for unauthorized changes to your account and charges that you didn't make; both or which are causes for concern. If you find these things, contact your financial institutions immediately to report the fraudulent activity and request further action.

Other signs that require immediate attention include: unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, and calls or letters about purchases you didn't make.


Ask For Your Credit Report

The three major credit bureaus internationally are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You should periodically ask for a copy of your credit report from one of these companies for indication of whether someone has fraudulently opened or used any bank or credit accounts in your name. Your credit report will provide a list of all bank and financial accounts under your name. It will also show your bill-paying history and provide lists of companies that have made inquiries about your credit. When you look over this information, keeps your eyes open for anything that shouldn't be there. If you find something, follow up with the credit bureau immediately by requesting more information and asking them to put an initial fraud alert on the account in question.


Maintain Careful Records

You should maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts by keeping your monthly statements and cheques for at least a year. Although financial institutions are required to keep records of your activities for a number of years, if you need to dispute a particular cheques or transaction, having a copy of your own original records will be immediately accessible and useful to the institutions that you need to contact.


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