Moving and Identity Theft – How to Safeguard your Identity
Moving can be an overwhelming experience; unfortunately it can also create opportunities for identity theft.
Whenever you change addresses, you leave yourself vulnerable to identity theft. However, if you know why you might be vulnerable and how thieves can use your move to their advantage, then you can ensure that these risks are addressed before you move from your home.
As most of us know, identity theft happens when someone gains access to personal information that they can then use to access your bank account, use your credit cards or prepare fake documents in your name. Moving often makes it easier for identity theft to occur: we leave information behind that others can use.
How to Prevent Identity Theft During a Move
1. Make a Change of Address Checklist: One of the easiest ways that someone can obtain your personal identity is through mail theft.Â Before you move, make sure you take the time to list all companies, institutions and subscriptions that you receive through the postal system. Try to think through every possible scenario and who might contact you through the mail, including your child’s school, former employers, banks, law offices, real estate agents, credit card companies, and magazine and newspaper subscriptions. The people who move into your prior residence will not necessarily steal your identity, but they will not be as careful about shredding your mail and mail just throw it away.
2. Properly Destroy Files and Records: When moving, it’s a good idea to get rid of files and records that you no longer need. However, if you do, make sure you properly shred documents. If you have highly sensitive information, such as credit card applications or bank statements, there are professional shredding companies who’ll dispose of materials properly. You can also purchase a home paper shredder that will shred items such as old credit cards as well.
3. Take Important Documents With You: If you have important documents to move, instead of packing them into the back of the moving truck, it’s a good idea to pack them carefully then take them with you when you travel to your new home. If you’re moving to another city or state by car and need to spend the night in a hotel, make sure you take the documents into the hotel room with you. You might also consider packing CDs or computers with you, especially if they contain sensitive material.
4. Hire Reputable Movers: One of the best ways to ensure that your things arrive at your new home without a problem is to hire reputable movers. After all, you are inviting them into your home and if these movers are going to pack your belongings for you, secure your important documents before their arrival.
5. Take a Thorough Home Inventory: If you know what you’ve packed and what the movers will be moving, then it’s easier to know what might be missing. A home inventory is a good way to keep track of your things and will come in handy if you need to make an insurance claim or to report a mover.
6. Manage Your Technology Inventory Closely: Many households now own multiple computers, cell phone, tablets, and other devices that contain sensitive material. It would be easy for one to be inadvertently misplaces or stolen. Make sure your devices stay with you in an unmarked packaging and that they are locked up at all times.
7. After the Move, Check-up on the Address Changes: Once you’ve moved, go back through your change of address list and contact the places that may pose a security risk, such as banks, credit card companies and previous employers. Ask if they have your new address and if mail has been rerouted.