For most of us, the major milestones in our lives feel like new beginnings: our first cars, our first homes, our first child. All of these moments signal the start of a new important chapter. But while new beginnings are exciting, it is easy to discount some of the risks they pose.
Regular readers of this blog know that identity theft rates spike among people who experience significant life changes. Often, this is because they tend to spend more time interacting with their own personal information, which can in turn make it more susceptible to attacks from identity thieves.
One instance in which this is particularly true is after a wedding.
Managing your identity as a couple
A number of things tend to happen to couples after they get married. They may merge bank accounts. One partner will likely add the other to their health insurance policy. They might purchase a new home or change their names. Later they may have children, which opens them up to a host of new opportunities for identity theft.
All of these actions require couples to fill out a number of forms, either on paper or electronically. But the more frequently that data travels, the more likely it is that it will be intercepted. Remember, thieves don’t need to know everything about you to steal your identity. They can get by with just a few key pieces of information, such as your email and home address. From there, it only takes a little creative thinking to obtain passwords for your online accounts and find their way into your life.
Couples looking to reduce their risks need to keep this data under wraps. One way to do this is to handle as much business in person as possible. For instance, when changing names, The New York Times recommends visiting the Social Security office directly, rather than using any other services. This will not only ensure that you won’t have any delays on your wages or tax returns (since your new name will be associated with your Social Security Number), but also lowers the chance that a thief might take the opportunity to impersonate you.
The key to protecting yourself against identity theft is staying vigilant and keeping a close eye on accounts and suspicious correspondence.
An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can also help. It monitor your credit file, public records and Social Security Number to alert you of certain activity that may indicate fraud. Take action to help protect yourself as you experience life’s most important milestones.