New Year – Same Identity
Entering a new year can feel like a fresh start, a clean slate, with a fresh set of ambitious resolutions to make us better versions of ourselves. I want to challenge you to add one more resolution at the beginning of this year, take some time to make sure that your financial identity is properly protected.
1. Personal Monitoring:
Monitor your financial statements, bank transactions, and your credit report regularly. You are able to get access to a credit report for free each year, and the start of the year is a great time to take a look.
If you still have dependent children, also take some time to review their credit report annually. Stealing the financial identity of a child can be the crown jewel for thieves as it often takes years to know any damage has been done.
2. Credit Freeze:
The next level of protection after reviewing your credit is a credit freeze. This extra step can be a great second line of defense when you know that you are not planning to open new lines of credit in the coming months.
When you freeze your credit record, you prevent lenders from seeing your credit report unless you specifically grant them access. This can prevent identity thieves from taking out new credit in your name, even if they have your Social Security number and other personal information. Similar to ongoing monitoring, it can also make sense to freeze the credit of dependent children if they will not be seeking credit in the coming year.
3. Outsourcing Some Surveillance:
For ongoing monitoring throughout the whole year, hiring a credit and identity monitoring service can make a lot of sense for many individuals. As we get busy through the year, keeping track of our credit (and our other resolutions) can get more difficult. Hiring a company, one example being LifeLock, to be a second set of eyes can be an effective final line of defense.
If you become a victim of identity theft of credit fraud, despite the other protections you have put in place, companies such as LifeLock will also help to hire experts, and attorneys to help you to recover what was taken.
While identity theft and leaking of personal information has unfortunately become more commonplace, the steps above can help to limit your risk and protect you and your loved ones. The privacy of our client’s personal information is of the utmost importance to BDF. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your wealth management team.
Charlie Murin is a senior planner at BDF. He sits on the firm’s Financial Planning Committee, which is responsible for educating the BDF team on financial planning topics and improving the team’s multifaceted planning process. Charlie earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign, in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration in Financial Planning. He has his Series 65 license and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.