Moving is one of the most stressful things you will have to deal with. I know I keep saying this over and over, but it is true. Certainly, there is that excitement of knowing that soon you will discover something new; you will live in a new city, meet new people, discover some hidden gems like a side street bar, but nevertheless, all these exciting things that are waiting for you do not make the process of moving any easier, especially in the tech world we live now that makes all of us vulnerable to identity theft.
When moving, the chances of your identity getting stolen is even higher, if you do not do your homework and do not pay enough attention. A lot of people think that no one can benefit from stealing their identity, so they don’t do anything to protect it thinking that nobody would even bother to try and steal theirs. If you are one of those people, I am sorry to say this, but you are wrong. And for your own good, if you plan to relocate shortly and still haven’t hired a mover, I would advise you to take the following steps for preventing identity theft when you are moving and protect yourself and your family. As they say: Better safe than sorry.
Notify everyone that needs to be notified
Technology has helped us to get paperless statements, bills, letters and more. However, there are still institutions and companies that function the old fashioned way and send statements, bills, and other documents by mail. Also, many companies and institutions that already have your personal information and your current address will send paper letters. Unless you notify everyone that brings you statements, documents, bills, and what not, and give them your new address, your identity will be vulnerable to theft once you relocate, as someone may very easily get your mail and decide to use your identity for who knows what harm. Why leave your fate in the hands of a stranger, and not take the necessary steps to prevent it?
Secure all your electronic devices and important documents
Now we come to the dangerous part of the technology – it often raises the risk of getting your identity stolen in a blink of an eye, without leaving you time to even think. This, of course, can happen to anyone during different stages of life, not only when moving, but during that time the chances get higher. Among many files and important information that you may have on your electronic devices, thieves can find themselves in heaven, having to decide which document to steal first and in which way to destroy you.
The importance of strong passwords
Why not turn their heaven into hell and secure your laptops, computers, mobile phones and any other electronic devices you have with a strong password?
Make sure you have a different strong password for each device even though it may seem tempting to use one password for all of them, which makes thieves’ job easier once they get to break the password on one of your devices. It is the same with your social media accounts. You don’t want to have just one password for all of them. It’s too risky! Keep in mind that some electronic devices, such as mobile phones, can be highly vulnerable to security theft whether they have a strong password or not, so make sure these types of devices are always with you and not in any of your moving boxes. I suggest you do the same with important files and documents. Keep them always with you until you secure them in your new location.
“Transporting documents and electronic devices that contain sensitive personal information, leaving a residence unoccupied and [losing] misdirected mail are all risks associated with moving,” according to Stacey Vogler, managing director of Protect Your Bubble insurance company.
Make sure nothing important is left behind
And I mean check the trash cans as well! If you’re like me, you would probably just throw anything that you don’t want anymore directly in the trash. In the midst of the moving chaos what you may do is throughout old documents, bills or statements without completely destroying them together with other stuff you don’t need. This is another one of those big mistakes that increases your vulnerability. That is why you need to either shred or burn any documents you would not be happy to see in the possession of a total stranger.
Be careful with what you sell or donate
Whenever a move takes place, you will for sure try to sell or donate some of your stuff. This way you will either earn a few bucks by selling or do a good deed by donating. Both options look great on the facade, but be careful and double-check whatever you are donating or selling, check for any files and important documents that might have been left behind. You never know where the stuff that you are selling or donating may end up to. Be careful of your neighbors too. Seriously, you never know, so why risk.
Hire a reliable and trustworthy moving company
As I’ve written in a few previous articles, there are many scam companies that pretend to be reliable and trustworthy moving companies to many of their victims. If you want to receive everything you move to your new location safe and sound, you need to make sure that you’ve done your homework and the company you hire is the right one for you. What you can do to avoid scams is use some of the following resources:
1. Use official sites
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Moving & Storage Association make sure that a moving company you are looking to hire is licensed. Reading reviews, testimonials and asking around is also advisable.
2. Making the full payment in advance.
With most companies, of course, you can pay in full with a credit card. But make sure you read terms and conditions. In case of damage, you should be able to either get money back or file a claim with their insurance company to cover the damage.
3. Contact the moving company in advance
This way you will get a feel for whom you’re dealing with. This way you will make sure you’re not being deceived. If you can meet with a representative of the company in person, even better. Make time, so you get to ask every possible question you may have. You will feel more at ease after you’ve cleared all your doubts. Moreover, it’ll give you confidence that everything is going to turn out as you desire.
Freeze your Credit
Consider freezing your account whenever you are ready for it. It does not cost much. Moreover, you will make sure that if someone accesses your personal information, your credit will be safe. What’s more, it will help you stay calm knowing that personal data cannot be stolen from you. No matter how good a thief is.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Only 24% of fraudulent charges were first caught by a consumer’s financial institution. Also, every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen. The same amount of time it took you to read the first part of this sentence. You can find out more detailed statistics by the Federal trade commission here. In the first few months, you might want to request a copy of your credit report from either one of the credit bureaus. In case you see some transactions or suspicious inquiries to your credit you should immediately contact one of the bureaus back. Here are their contact numbers:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
You don’t have to call all of them. Once you notify one of them that you suspect identity theft, the other two will be notified immediately from the bureau you’ve contacted first. Visit the Federal Trade Commission official website here for more information. Thank you and stay safe!