Observe Financial Awareness Day by Protecting Your Identity
August 14th is National Financial Awareness Day
You likely had no idea that this day existed. The purpose of it is to help Americans take note of their finances and know more about how to create and maintain a healthy, balanced, and sustainable financial life by making informed decisions with their existing resources.
One often-overlooked aspect of financial awareness is actively protecting your identity. After all, your identity is the gateway to your finances!
Why is August 14th Important?
On average last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received a report of identity theft every 21 seconds. That doesn’t include those who didn’t file a report, because quite often, victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone. So, the estimated number of Americans that had their identity stolen in 2021 is 15 million. And if you think that seniors are more likely to be targeted, that’s a myth. The truth is that the most likely victims are actually 30-39 years old. How much did these thieves steal in 2021? About $52 billion of Americans’ personally-earned and saved money.
August 14th Puts Us Two-Thirds into 2022
The timing of Financial Awareness Day is quite convenient. At the two-thirds point of the year and in the summer, August 14th doesn’t conflict with other major financial events like tax time, end of year, and Christmas, and there are no major holidays in August. By taking time on August 14th (and every day!) to protect your income, spending, and savings, you won’t be overwhelmed at other times of the year.
August 14th is Also about Protecting Your Finances
Financial awareness is important, but it’s just the beginning. Once you become aware of what you have, the next step is acting to protect it. Whether your income, spending, and savings are in harmony or not, your personal wealth is vulnerable to identity thieves. Here are some ways you can protect your identity and finances:
- Use Strong Passwords Online. Change them frequently. Make it difficult for your information to be worth their while.
- Check Your Credit Reports. By monitoring your reports from the major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, you will see any suspicious credit activity that might not otherwise be obvious right away. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each bureau, so take advantage of it.
- Review Credit Card and Bank Accounts. Don’t trust that your financial activity is correct, because undetected fraud can do a lot of damage if you don’t act on it quickly. Don’t be afraid to contact the bank or credit card company if you notice something unusual. Yes, many financial services companies offer fraud detection, but it is your responsibility to report suspected fraud.
- Protect Your Social Security Number. Don’t share the full number over the phone or online, and when an organization such as your health care provider, dentist, or school asks you for it, challenge that request. Your number is very valuable to a thief, and the more organizations that have it, the more vulnerable you are to identity theft and financial harm.
- Be Cautious on Social Media. Avoid sharing sensitive personal information like your driver license number (even if you just got your license!), birthdates (even if you love all the greetings!), email addresses, home address, passport number, and of course, your social security number.
- Install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to further protect your IP address and prevent scammers from tracking and stealing your data.
- Destroy All Documents. Identity thieves will dumpster-dive into your trash, recycling bin, or anywhere else you leave unprotected documents that contain personal information. Have a professional shredding company destroy all of your paperwork.
Is Professional Shredding Affordable and Secure?
You may assume that professional shredding companies only serve businesses, but many offer residential shredding and walk-in and drop off shredding services, because we all have documents that need to be securely destroyed. It is surprisingly affordable, especially when you consider the cost of DIY shredding, which still leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. When you work with a local, NAID AAA Certified shredding company, you can rest easy knowing you’ve taken an important step to protect your identity and finances.
Richards & Richards helps protect your documents with shredding for commercial, home and office or personal residential. We are proudly NAID AAA Certified, upholding the highest security standards in the industry. For more information or a shredding quote, simply give us a call at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page. We’re standing by to help you protect your information!