Ten Tips to Avoid Identity Theft When You Move

St. Louis REALTOR, Dennis NormanTypically from early spring until late summer is a busy season for the real estate market with increased home sales as people try to make their move without fighting winter and in time to have their kids in place before the new school year. Now, thanks to a report by Intersections, Inc., a company that provides address monitoring and credit monitoring services, I realize that it is also a season of increased identify theft. They say the risk of identity theft during a move is a result of personally identifiable information being shuffled around from one home to the next and buyers and renters becoming preoccupied with the move and simply overlooking protecting their sensitive documents.

“Identity thieves are pervasive and creative in finding opportunities to steal information, and something as simple as forgetting to forward mail can put a consumer in jeopardy of identity theft,” said Steve Schwartz, Intersections’ Executive Vice President of Consumer Services.

Intersections, Inc. offers the following top safety steps for homeowners and tenants on the move:

  1. Submit a Change of Address Form. Submit an official Change of Address Form through your local post office, and once the request has been filed, keep an eye out for a confirmation from the Postal Service. You’ll want to use this to verify that your new information has been correctly updated. You can expect your mail to arrive at your new address within 7 to 10 business days after filing.
  2. Shred sensitive documents. All important documents and paperwork that will not be coming with you should be shredded to prevent thieves from finding any information in your trash. A small investment in a shredder is well worth it when you consider the headache it could be preventing.
  3. Monitor financial statements. Watch over your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity.
  4. Use reputable moving companies. Many Americans use a moving service to help pack and move their boxes, but mover fraud is becoming more commonplace in the U.S. Take the time to read reviews, research the company and ask trusted friends, family or real estate agents for recommendations. Always check the mover’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau and make sure the mover is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and has a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number before signing any agreements or obtaining an estimate.
  5. Keep documents with you. Transfer all important physical documents that will be making the move, such as wills, stock certificates, bonds, etc., to a safe and secure place such as a locked box or an online secure vault. Keep the physical documents with you during the move and do not leave any secure receptacles for movers or others to transport.
  6. Enroll in a monitoring service. There are various credit and address monitoring services available. Intersections, Inc. offers such services and you can check them out by clicking here.
  7. Lock down your computer. Devote time and resources before your move to make sure all computers in your home are hack-proof and packed and out of sight before movers arrive.
  8. Supervise the move. Make sure you are present for the entire duration of the move. Your presence could deter potential theft from occurring and you can rest assured that your personal belongings are being taken care of properly.
  9. Check your credit report. Take a look at your credit report for several months after you’ve moved. Any suspicious activity on the report may be a sign that your information has been compromised and local authorities and banks should be contacted.
  10. Verify mail is being delivered. After the move, verify that you are receiving all mail from the list of senders you identified and contacted beforehand.

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