person typing on a laptop

Preventing Identity Theft During a Move

Article posted by on June 07, 2024

Moving to a new home can be both exciting and stressful. However, many people do not realize that moving increases the risk of identity theft. Identity thieves take advantage of this chaotic time to steal personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), millions of Americans experience identity theft each year. Moving adds another layer of risk. However, by taking certain precautions, you can easily avoid this. In this article, MovingScam.com will offer you some useful tips on preventing identity theft during a move.

Overview of Identity Theft Statistics During Moves

Identity theft is a serious crime that affects many people. In America, the FTC reports over 1.4 million identity theft cases each year. During a move, the risk of identity theft rises significantly. Moving often involves sharing personal information with various parties, such as moving companies, utility providers, and real estate agents. Each interaction creates an opportunity for identity thieves. According to the Better Business Bureau, around 30% of identity theft cases occur during a change of address. So, by understanding these risks, you can take steps to safeguard your personal information.

padlock on top of a laptop keyboard

Stay vigilant during your move to protect your personal information from identity theft.

Secure Important Documents

One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to secure your important documents. Sensitive documents include:

  • Passports
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Financial statements
  • Medical records

Keep these documents in a secure, locked box. Transport this box yourself rather than packing it in boxes handled by movers. Movers might lose or mishandle boxes, thus increasing the risk of identity theft. Also, a fireproof and waterproof box provides extra protection. Always keep this box with you during the move.

padlock securing a blue door

Secure your important documents in a locked box and transport it yourself during the move.

Shred Unnecessary Paperwork

Before your move, go through all your paperwork and shred any documents you no longer need. This includes old bank statements, bills, and any other paperwork containing personal information. Identity thieves often go through the trash to find personal information. Therefore, shredding these documents prevents them from using your discarded information. Invest in a good-quality shredder for this task. Shred everything that has your name, address, account number, or other sensitive information. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of identity theft.

Update Your Address Promptly

Remember to update your address promptly. Notify the post office of your change of address to make sure all mail is forwarded to your new home. Use the USPS website or visit your local post office for this service. Update your address with banks, credit card companies, and other important institutions as well. If you fail to update your address, sensitive mail could be delivered to your old address. Thieves could intercept this mail and steal your personal information. Make a list of all important contacts and update your address with each one.

Use a Secure Internet Connection to Prevent Identity Theft

When updating your address online or handling any personal information during your move, use a secure, encrypted internet connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be easily hacked and compromise your personal data. Public networks are less secure and more vulnerable to attacks. Use your home internet or a secure mobile hotspot instead. These options provide a safer environment for sensitive transactions. Also, always check for “https” in the website address to ensure the site is secure. Websites with “https” use encryption to protect your data from hackers.

Use a virtual private network (VPN)

Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) for added security. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, which makes it harder for hackers to access your data. Many reliable VPN services are available, some even for free. Choose a reputable provider with good reviews and strong security features.

person using a vpn for preventing identity theft during a move

Preventing identity theft during a move means always using a VPN for secure internet connections.

In addition, update your internet security software regularly. This includes antivirus programs and firewalls. These tools help protect your devices from malware and other threats. Keeping your software up to date ensures you have the latest security patches. Turn off the auto-connect feature on your devices. This prevents them from automatically connecting to unfamiliar networks. Manually select trusted networks to reduce the risk of connecting to compromised Wi-Fi.

Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. Change your passwords regularly and avoid using the same password across multiple sites. Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords securely.

Monitor Your Credit and Financial Statements

Keep a close eye on your credit reports and financial statements before, during, and after your move. Regular monitoring helps you spot identity theft early. Look for any unusual activity or unauthorized transactions. Check your bank statements weekly for any discrepancies. Pay attention to small charges, as they can be a sign of fraud testing.

You are also entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request your reports. Review these reports for errors or unfamiliar accounts. Report any inaccuracies immediately to the credit bureau.

Set up fraud alerts or credit monitoring services

Consider setting up fraud alerts or credit monitoring services. Fraud alerts notify you if someone tries to open an account in your name. Credit monitoring services send you alerts about significant changes to your credit report. These services can include notifications for new accounts, credit inquiries, or changes in account balances.

Freeze your credit to prevent identity theft during a move

Another helpful step is to freeze your credit. A credit freeze prevents new creditors from accessing your credit report, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. You can lift the freeze temporarily when needed.

Opt for electronic statements and alerts

Opt for electronic statements and alerts from your financial institutions. This reduces the risk of mail theft and allows you to detect any suspicious activity quickly. Use strong, unique passwords for your online banking and financial accounts. Change these passwords regularly and enable two-factor authentication for added security.

Preventing Identity Theft During a Move and Staying Secure

Moving involves many challenges, and preventing identity theft during a move involves taking proactive steps. First, secure your important documents in a locked box and transport them yourself. Then, shred unnecessary paperwork to prevent thieves from accessing your personal information. Promptly update your address with the post office and important institutions. Use a secure internet connection when handling personal information online. Lastly, monitor your credit and financial statements closely. These precautions can help you safeguard your identity during a move. Stay vigilant, and you can enjoy your new home without the worry of identity theft.

Resources:

  • https://www.ftc.gov/
  • https://www.bbb.org/