Today we have a special post, from a blog reader who wanted to share her story of identity theft — and what she learned from the experience. We were excited to publish this because truly, it could happen to anyone and we should all be prepared. Here’s Clarissa Laskey…
Approximately one year ago, my husband and I were the victims of identity theft. It was a miserable experience to say the least, and one that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. To look on the bright side of the experience, I would have to say that at least I learned some things about how to protect myself and my identity.
As this was a new experience for me, at first I felt overwhelmed and violated. I didn’t know how to go about picking myself up and gaining back my identity.
Thank goodness for the instant information that the digital age is able to provide, as I was able to immediately find some helpful resources right online.
One of the most important things that I learned throughout this process was that although we may never be able to fully prevent identity theft, there are definitely some ways to decrease the chance of it happening:
Check your online bank accounts daily for activity. This is made much easier in today’s world with smartphones, as most banking institutions have available apps.
Shred anything that contains your personal information. Just because you have thrown something in the trash doesn’t mean that’s where it will stay.
Make sure to keep your technology secured. Ensure that the computer you are using has up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, and any other available security software. I like to shop online and I used to take for granted that every website I entered was secure and could be trusted. Not anymore. Do not shop or make online transactions unless you are confident that you are on a secure website. Log off of a computer before shutting it down and don’t save your username and passwords on public or even private computers.
Although it has taken me a little while, I have learned to be very cautious with my debit card and especially my pin number. Some gas station pumps and ATM’s may have “skimming devices” on them that record credit or debit card information. Wometimes it is just best to conduct certain transactions with plain old cash! (Editors note: We ran a post on protecting yourself from these skimmers recently — it’s worth sharing here again, and worth another read.)
Please be a proactive party when it comes to protecting your identity. I think that a lot of people, like myself, have this notion that this will never happen to them, therefore they don’t take the necessary precautions. But believe me, it can!
About Clarissa: Clarissa Laskey is a sporadic blogger and a married mother of an nine-year-old boy, Reece, and a two-year-old girl, Tatum. She loves social media, photography and living life to the its fullest.