Tips for Protecting Against Identity Theft During a Move
when a move goes off without a hitch, it can still be one of life's
most stressful events. The last thing you want is to be caught off
guard by a case of identity theft just as you're settling into your
new home. Unfortunately, moving can put a big target on your back
for identity thieves.
"Transporting documents and electronic devices that contain
sensitive personal information, leaving a residence unoccupied and
[losing] misdirected mail are all risks associated with moving,"
said Stacey Vogler, managing director of insurance company Protect
If your stress levels are skyrocketing at the thought of having
your identity stolen in the middle of your next move, take a deep
breath and follow these five tips for protecting yourself against
1. Choose a Reputable Moving
While a great moving company can make your relocation easier and
more efficient, dishonest movers can quickly turn the process into
a nightmare. Don't forget that moving professionals often have direct
access to your private possessions and information, so you always
should do research to make sure a company is trustworthy. Before
you hire a mover, read customer reviews online and view a company's
rating with the Better Business Bureau, recommends Robert Siciliano,
identity theft expert with BestIDTheftCompanys.com.
2. Keep Sensitive Documents Safe.
If you're holding on to a large number of old bills and financial
records, reduce your risk by getting rid of sensitive documents
you don't need. "Sort through stored paperwork to determine
what should be moved to the new location and what can be discarded,"
Just make sure you've got a shredding
machine handy to prevent identity thieves from combing through your
trash or recycling bins for valuable information.
Organize all the sensitive documents
you want to keep and separate them from the belongings your movers
will be handling. Vogler recommends storing your most important
records-including passports, birth certificates and Social Security
cards-in a locked safe that stays with you during the move.
3. Safeguard Electronic Information.
As more information is stored online and on electronic devices,
it's increasingly important to make sure no one gains access to
your computers, tablets or smartphones while you're in the midst
If you're discarding, donating or
selling old electronics before your move, thoroughly wipe all data
from those devices. Keep your other devices safe with password protection
before the movers show up.
4. Direct Your Mail to the Right
Even if you shred or lock away all your existing sensitive information,
you still need to consider the documents that are on their way to
you. Financial records mailed to the wrong address easily can put
you at risk for fraud, so be sure to set up a change of address
with the U.S. Postal Service before you move, Vogler said.
To further prevent these records
from falling into the wrong hands, get in touch with your financial
institutions and verify that they have your new address on file,
said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource
5. Consider a Credit Freeze.
For even more peace of mind during your next move, Siciliano
recommends investing in a credit freeze. The reason? When an identity
thief steals your information and tries to open up new lines of
credit, lenders typically run a credit check.
"With a credit freeze, nobody
can check your credit until you personally unlock the freeze,"
Without access to this information,
lenders are much less likely to grant a thief a new line of credit
under your name.
To put this safeguard in place, you'll
need to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax,
Experian and TransUnion), follow their credit freeze procedures
and pay a small fee (usually $3 to $15) to each bureau.
While you could opt for a fraud alert
to protect your credit, Siciliano recommends a credit freeze because
a fraud alert lasts for only three months. "A credit freeze
is forever," he said. Putting a freeze in place gives you one
less thing to worry about during your next move-and all future moves.
Anne Wynter, RISMedia