Try these low-tech ways to protect yourself.
Did you know that victims of identity theft report spending more than 80 hours and close to $600 to resolve issues related to the theft? That’s what a Nationwide survey showed—and it’s why it’s important to make sure thieves don’t have the opportunity to steal your information in the first place. These simple steps may help you protect your identity when you’re at home or on the road:
1. Shred identifying papers. Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy any printed account statements, receipts or promotional credit offers before you throw them away. Many identity thieves gain the information they want simply by going through their victims’ trash.
2. Review your credit report regularly. In addition to reviewing your monthly account statements promptly, take the time to order a free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You don’t have to order them all at once. Consider ordering your free report from Equifax one month, Experian four months later and TransUnion four months after that to get a better view of your credit activity throughout the year.
3. Use protection and encryption tools on your computer and digital data. In addition to installing a firewall on your personal computer network, make sure to password-protect your wireless service at home—and don’t transmit personal information over open wireless networks like those at most restaurants and hotels. Also, take the simple step of password-protecting your computer and smartphone, screensaver and any files that contain personal or financial data.
4. Stay aware of your surroundings. At the ATM or checkout counter, block the keypad from view with your hand or body. Take your receipt when you leave. Also, be careful not to throw away receipts or identifying documents in view of others. And be cautious about giving your account number or password to anyone over the phone, especially if you are where others can hear you.
5. Consider ID Theft Coverage from Nationwide. That’s right. If you do become the victim of identity theft, Nationwide can help you recover your information and protect yourself from further damage. Find out how Nationwide Identity Theft Coverage works.