Making a move? Possessions aren’t the only things you’ll want to protect. Modern technology has opened the door for thieves to steal your identity and ruin your reputation. Whether you’re moving houses or switching banks, taking these preventive measures will help your personal possessions and identity remain safe during the transition.
Have a plan
First and foremost, you need a solid “moving” plan. This includes the specific times and dates when you need to be moved to your new location. Developing a plan is crucial to not just keeping the process organized, but for developing a protection plan for all of your personal belongings and information.
Update your new address
No matter what kind of move you are making, it’s always a good idea to change your address not only with the U.S. Postal Service, but also with individual organizations. Even if the person who moves into your old residence won’t steal your identity, they certainly won’t shred or carefully discard your mail like you would. Contact all the companies, financial institutions, magazines and other organizations that regularly send you mail a week prior to your move to ensure any mail arrives safely.
Keep data and technology secure
While technology and the electronic age have made storing data easier, they haven’t made it safer. Prior to your move, make sure to secure any private records. Make sure to scan and store your documents virtually, and then shred unofficial documents to help avoid the risk of any theft. As an additional safety precaution, keep all important documents or private data on your electronic devices password protected.
Shed and shred
Have a bunch of boxes sitting in storage you don’t want? Moving presents the opportunity to get rid of unneeded things, including old documents and old company files. Don’t leave behind or trash any sensitive documents or paperwork you don’t intend to keep. Instead, shred any unwanted items to eliminate the possibility of theft. Don’t have a shredder? Check with your local financial institution, as many of them offer free shredding events throughout the year.
If you make the decision to switch financial institutions, it will be very important to contact all organizations that you do business with electronically — immediately. The last thing you want to happen is for requests for withdrawals to be returned. In addition, you should shred all unused checks, debit and credit cards once your account is closed.
Monitor bank statements
And finally, once you have made your move, watch for unexplained charges or suspicious activity on your debit and credit cards. Check with your financial institution about receiving identity alerts to help ensure the safety of your accounts. If you notice any suspicious charges, don’t wait — immediately report them to your banking institution.
Keep in mind
The federal government recommends putting fraud alert on your credit reports to make it harder for identity thieves to open an account under your name. It never hurts to get a copy of your credit report from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. To get your free copy, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.