Moving to a new home can expose you to the risk of identity theft, so take precautions to guard your personal information as you finance your new home, close and open new bank or utility accounts, pack, and move.
“Identity thieves are pervasive and creative in finding opportunities to steal information, and something as simple as forgetting to forward mail can put a consumer in jeopardy of identity theft,” said Steve Schwartz, executive vice president of Intersections Inc., a consumer identity protection firm.
Schwartz offers these nine tips for keeping identity thieves at bay during and after a move:
- Submit your change of address form at the post office. Then watch for a confirmation from the Postal Service confirming that your new information was correctly updated. Mail should start coming to your new address within 7 to 10 business days after filing; follow up at the post office if it doesn’t.
- Shred sensitive documents that you’re not taking. Don’t be in such a rush that you toss papers with personal information into the recycling bin.
- Monitor financial statements. Watch your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity.
- Use reputable moving companies. Do your homework before you hire a mover. Read online reviews, research the company, and ask trusted friends, family, or real estate agents for recommendations. Check the mover’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure it’s registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and has a U.S. Department of Transportation number before you sign any agreement or even get an estimate.
- Keep documents with you. Transfer all important physical documents that will be making the move, such as wills, stock certificates, bonds, etc., to a safe and secure place such as a locked box. Keep physical documents with you during the move and do not leave any secure receptacles for movers or others to transport.
- Lock down your computer. Devote time and resources before your move to make sure all computers in your home are hack-proof and packed and out of sight before movers arrive.
- Supervise the move. Make sure you are present for the entire duration of the move. Your presence could deter potential theft from occurring and ensure that the movers take good care of your personal belongings.
- Check your credit report. Take a look at your credit report for several months after you’ve moved. Any suspicious activity on the report may be a sign that your information has been compromised. If that happens, immediately contact the police, your banks, your credit card issuers, and have the credit repositories put a fraud alert on your credit profile.
- Verify mail is being delivered. After the move, verify that you’re receiving all mail from the list of senders you identified and contacted beforehand.
Source: Intersections Inc.
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