Moving is prime time for identity theft because personal information is constantly shuffled from one home to the next, leaving it accessible to dumpster divers, rogue movers, nosy home buyers and sketchy contractors.
Keep An Eye On Your Mailbox
These days, cyber-crime is on the rise and technology is providing hackers with an ever-growing range of opportunities to steal sensitive personal information. However, individuals should continue to be mindful of the old-fashioned ways criminals can procure data. Much of our private correspondence is still handled in hardcopy form, which makes it vulnerable to mail theft.
An ABC local news affiliate recently reported that two individuals were convicted for driving through neighborhoods and emptying mailboxes. Police pulled the couple over and found over 750 pieces of mail in their car, including credit card statements and other identifying information. Thieves can then use this stolen material to create fraudulent credit cards, driver’s licenses and checks.
Here are three ways you can protect your identity:
- Don’t let it sit: Take notice of when your postal worker usually arrives at your house so that you don’t let mail sit in your box for a long time. If you wait hours to collect it, you’re expanding the window of opportunity for drive-by theft.
- Drop it off: When mailing secure information such as checks or contracts, drop them off at the post office or at one of the blue USPS collection boxes. This will ensure that thieves won’t be able to take the envelopes out once you’ve deposited them.
- Hold it: If you’re going on vacation, call your local post office branch and schedule a mail hold for the period of time you’ll be away. This will stop mail from piling up in front of your home and notifying criminals that you’re away.
Tips For A Secure Move
When you’re moving houses, it’s more difficult to keep track of you mail and belongings, because you’re typically straddling two properties. Wherever you’re moving, it’s crucial to take certain steps to keep yourself safe:
- Be present: Maintaining a physical presence during the move deters potential thieves.
- Change-of-address: Fill out a change-of-address form, which you can get online or at your post office. Do this 10 days before your move so your mail gets properly rerouted and isn’t left at an empty house.
- Keep it secure: During open houses, lock documents like your birth certificate, tax returns, financial receipts and health insurance forms in a safe.
- Mail: During the first 30 days after you’ve moved, check with your local post office to make sure all mail is now being delivered to your new address.
- Shred it, don’t forget it: When making a move, it’s often necessary to sort through old file folders and get rid of unnecessary records. When doing this, be sure to shred all your papers containing identifying information, such as credit card account numbers or Social Security numbers. Identity thieves might go through your trash to find valuable material.
- Tax information: Make sure that thieves don’t get ahold of your tax correspondence by filling out an IRS Change Request Form 882.
- Verify moving companies: Find a trustworthy moving company to help you with your transition. Legitimate ones are typically registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Finally, monitor your financial statement. During and after the move, be sure to monitor your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity. Consider enrolling in a service like Identity Guard that can help you monitor activity related to your credit, public records and other personal information.