Welcome Home: Protecting Your Identity When You Move

It’s exciting to begin fresh in a new home. A blank canvas for decorating, a place where you have the freedom to make it home.

But moving is no small feat. It can be nerve-wracking to sort through and pack up all your belongings. Such a bold project involves countless details, which are sometimes overwhelming, and always entail unexpected hiccups. In the chaos of transition, people often leave themselves susceptible to identity theft. Here is a to-do list to guide your planning and help prevent your identity from being stolen.

Check References

If you’re moving by yourself, enlist the help of family and friends who you trust. Spend the morning loading the truck, and treat everyone to pizza for lunch.

If you’re planning to hire a moving company, first ask for referrals from people you trust. See if they can give you any recommendations. Get written estimates from at least three companies before finalizing and make sure they have seen what all needs to be moved. This will help eliminate any miscommunications on moving day.

Shred

Moving is a great time to declutter. For an identity thief, the perfect document has details like your bank account number, credit card number, insurance info and passwords. However, even gift certificates which have your birth date on them or an electricity bill which has your full name and phone number on it can put your identity at risk. The solution: invest in a good paper shredder. Tearing up your paperwork isn’t enough as the pieces can easily be taped back together. Shredded paper is cumbersome, if not impossible, to piece back together.

Change Your Address

Change your address for all subscriptions, bills and deliveries. Be sure to update your address for credit cards, car loans, bank statements, 401k and investment statements, mortgage statements and any other financial documents. One of the easiest ways to steal an identity is through mail theft. The U.S. Post Office has a Change-of-Address form that is easy to fill out and ensures that all your mail is redirected to your new address. In addition, write a quick email to your contacts giving them the new address for any correspondence.

Don’t Let Go

On the actual day of the move, keep all your important documents with you. Ideally, these should never be handed over to your moving company. In the event of there being no other solution but for the movers to transport your documents, invest in a secure safe. Do not hand over your computer or laptop to the movers. Accessible data like passwords, account details and documents make you an easy target.

Subscribe to a Protection Service

Subscribe to an identity theft protection service, which constantly scans for potential threats and helps you get your identity back if it’s stolen. Although you should always be cautious with sensitive information, using a service like Lifelock helps to shoulder the burden of monitoring all your personal data, credit activity and suspicious transactions.

Check Your Credit

Once you’ve settled into your new home, obtain a credit report. Look for any inquiries to your credit that do not match your old address. It could be an identity thief trying to use your details to open an account. If you have an identity protection service, it will flag activity like this. If you see activity that wasn’t made by you, contact the creditor that ran the report as well as the credit bureaus to correct the issue.

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