Moving to a new home requires you to juggle multiple tasks at once. As a result, it is easy to become wrapped up in the most obvious chores, such as packing, donating items and recycling documents you no longer need. When recycling documents, however you do not want to miss an important step: protecting your identity.
While it is always important to protect yourself from identity theft, it is especially important to do so when you are moving. You may become more of a target for identity theft when you are moving because you are throwing away more documents. In addition, your personal information is being transported from one place to another. If you take the time to protect yourself, it may be less likely that you will become a victim of identity theft. Make sure to practice the following safety tips to deter potential criminals from stealing your information.
Use Caution When Throwing Out Documents
If you have a large quantity of documents to throw away before your moving date, it may be tempting to simply throw everything into a recycling bin without looking at it. However, you may be leaving your name, address and other personal information unprotected. It may be wise to invest in a shredder, or you can take a permanent marker and scribble over sensitive information.
If you do not carefully dispose of your documents, you may become a victim of identity fraud. This is because many identity thieves practice dumpster diving, in which they search through trash for old documents that may list your personal information. All a thief needs to find is a document that lists your Social Security Number (SSN) or credit card information. Common documents that list sensitive information include utility bills, credit card bills and bank statements.
Use Caution When Transporting Important Documents
If you have documents that contain sensitive information, you may want to store them safely for your move. This may involve placing them in a sealed box or a locked filing cabinet. You may even take the most sensitive documents with you separately, so they never leave your sight. If you do not have room in your car or you are flying, you may consider asking a friend or relative to store them while you are moving.
How to Submit a Change of Address Notice to USPS and Other Services
Notifying the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) of your new address is an essential step in the moving process, because you do not want to miss important mail. It is also important because you will reduce the risk that your mail gets into the wrong hands. It usually takes between 7 and 10 business days for USPS to process your request. Thus, it is better to submit a notice in advance. You may submit a request online or by visiting a post office and filling out a change of address form.
You may also need to notify other services that send you mail, including magazine and newspaper subscriptions and companies that send you medicine, toiletries or other items each month. You may choose to pause these subscriptions until you get settled in your new home. Otherwise, you may be able to give certain companies your move-in date or simply update your address the day before your move. This way, you will not have to wait for the USPS to forward your mail to your new home. You also will not have to worry about potential identity thieves stealing your mail.
Research Different Moving Companies Before You Select One
It is important not to hire the first moving company you see, because you may not be getting the best deal and you may have no proof of the company’s legitimacy. To prevent yourself from hiring a company that steals your information, make sure you research every mover that you consider. Check that a moving company has its own website, lists its certifications and is straightforward with the costs of its services. It is also a good idea to read through reviews or contact friends who have recently moved to see who they recommend.
As an extra precaution, check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure that the company you choose has an ID number from the Department of Transportation and is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
How to Submit a Request for a Copy of Your Credit Report
It is recommended that you request a free copy of your credit report in advance of your moving date. You are permitted one free copy of your report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. As a result, you are not limited to requesting one report each year. These credit reports will list any hard inquiries that were made to your credit, which may have slightly lowered your score.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you visit the Annual Credit Report website to make this request, which is the only website authorized by the federal government to release a credit report to you. You may also call the FTC number for ordering credit reports, which is listed on the FTC website. The FTC is a government agency which oversees consumer protection and promotes fair competition in the economy.
What to Do If You See Signs of Fraud on Your Credit Report
Monitoring your report while you are moving is an important precaution because you may be able to detect the early signs of identity theft. If you see suspicious activity under your name, you must act quickly. Contact your bank, one of the three credit bureaus and the person or entity who ran your report. Make sure they know that any deductions in your score or suspicious activity on your record were not caused by you.
At this time, you may request one of the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report as soon as possible. According to the FTC, the first credit bureau you contact is then responsible for notifying the other two bureaus. You may also visit the website of the Federal Trade Commission for more information on identity theft and how to report fraud.