Identity Threats During a Move: What You Can Do to Protect Your Identity

House insurance salesman16.6 million people—or 7 percent of Americans over the age of 16—were exposed to at least one incident of identity theft in 2012, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports. While any incident of identity theft can be alarming, scenarios where a thief charges purchases to your credit card (or even opens a new card in your name) can be personally and financially damaging. Moves are a popular time for identity theft to occur, as thieves know that your attention is divided. Follow these tips, with help from AOL Real Estate and TampaSecurityNow to stay safe during your next move:

Identity Threats During a Move

There are a lot of naturally occurring elements in a home or apartment move that can expose you to identity theft. These include:

  • Improper disposal of personal files, credit card offers, old utility bills and other items – As you pack, you may be tempted to throw away old records and utility bills in addition to new junk mail and unsolicited offers. If a thief recovers these from your trash, he could open a credit card in your name. Always shred documents that contain your personal information before disposing of them.
  • Theft of personal information by movers or other service people – Whether it’s the cable guy coming by to retrieve your modem or the movers packing the moving truck, all it takes is one unscrupulous person to steal your information. Safeguard possessions by only hiring service people with a positive rating from the Better Business Bureau and staying in the home when you have service people over.
  • Theft of mail delivered after you move – After a move, mail can slip through the USPS Mail Forwarding system and go to your old address. If possible, ask a former neighbor to collect and forward items to you to prevent your mail from falling into the hands of a thief, who can use personal information to assume your identity.
  • Break-in or theft during the chaos of the move – The presence of movers or of signs of moving (such as a tag sale or moving sale, a realtor parked outside, or a “For Sale” sign) can attract the wrong kind of attention. A thief can break in (or even wander in during an open house) and pocket a cell phone, tablet or other small device that contains personal information. Take these gadgets with you whenever you leave the house or lock them up to prevent theft.

Ways to Safeguard Your Identity During the Move

During a move, Lifelock recommends signing up for an identity protection service that provides automatic notifications and credit monitoring, protecting you if anyone tries to access your accounts. The service can do much of the monitoring for you, during this very busy time.

As you plan to move, create a list of all of the personal mail you routinely receive, such as student loan bills, utility bills, doctor’s and vet appointment reminders, and personal correspondence. Provide everyone with your new address, change your address with the USPS and cancel any services you no longer need to minimize mail coming to your old house. This can also be a perfect time to switch to e-statements, which are better for the environment and can help stop identity theft.

Just moved into your new home? 5 simple ways to avoid accidental fires and stay safe

Fire damages EA warehouse

It’s funny how you never think anything will go wrong until it actually does. Accidents happen to anyone and they can strike in an instant. You can never stop them from happening, but there are things you can do to stay clear of them. Some of the worst accidents involve your home catching fire, so we’re going to look at a few things that should keep you a little safer from now on.

Don’t leave your food unattended

Cooking Green Curry

You wouldn’t leave a baby unattended in the bath because it could drown while you were away, so don’t walk away while you’re cooking food. This will obviously depend on the appliance you’re using, but why walk away from something when there is a small chance it could catch on fire? The fact you’re not even around means you won’t be able to douse the flames straight away. Chip pans are more dangerous than every other appliance combined.

Keep your doors closed all the time

Closed doors

When you’re walking around the house you should close the doors behind you. It’s also a good idea to walk around at night closing every door inside your home. If there was a fire and all your doors were open it would be able to spread very quickly, but if the doors were closed you would have a much higher chance of surviving. How long would it take you to close all your doors at night? It’s well worth it when you have young children in the house because you want to keep them as safe as possible.

Don’t use electric blankets

Electric Blanket to the rescue

Electric blankets seemed like a great invention because who in their right mind doesn’t want to feel warm and snugly when they get under the covers, but there is a huge problem with them catching fire. Some fire fighters will tell you they hate electric blankets more than anything else. You’re risking your life every time you fall asleep with one still on, plus you’re risking your home burning down every time you switch one on for a few hours before you go to bed.

Burning candles aren’t always pretty

Jan 27/2010 Candles

Nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a warm bath surrounded by dozens of beautiful candles. They even come in handy when the electricity cuts out and you need to see what you’re doing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use candles because that would be crazy, but you just shouldn’t leave them unattended. In the majority of cases they’ll eventually go out by themselves, but do you want to be the exception to the rule when they burn your home down?

Always use a fireguard

Cosy fire ambience in Wetherspoons, Lytham

Are you one of those people who still loves a log burning fire? They’ve actually become a lot more popular in recent years, either because they’re great or because the price of electricity has skyrocketed. If you do decide to burn logs in the fire you need to make sure you protect yourself with a fireguard. You don’t know where flying hot embers are going to land and they can set things on fire. If you don’t use one your eyes will be glued to the fire to see where those embers are landing.

The author of this post is Shruti Vaghe, a freelancer who often writes for Alliance Floor Source, a company providingvinyl flooring services. . She likes to indulge in yoga and pilates to stay fit. Follow her on Twitter @ShrutiVaghe.

Your Move to a New Home Is an Opportunity to Jump-Start Your Life

No one particularly likes moving. Packing up everything you own and moving it into another home can be daunting and exhausting. Instead of looking at your impending move as a gigantic chore, consider it an opportunity to refresh, rejuvenate and re-energize your life. This is your chance to start new, shed old items and problems and become the person you want to be.

Commit to a Clutter-Free Home

Take a realistic approach to this step, and try to become organized without being obsessively orderly. According to the Happiness Project, this can be a difficult balance to strike, but it can be done. Once moved in, put a stop to junk mail by filing a temporary change of address with the U.S. Post Office, rather than a permanent change of address. Because numerous marketing companies don’t use any address validation solutions, exorbitant amounts of unsolicited mail is sent to the wrong recipients. Less junk mail in your new home is a good first step to becoming clutter-free and organized.

Get by on Much Less

Moving is a chance to evaluate what items you own are necessary and which ones you can live without. Look at every item you don’t use on a regular basis with a critical eye. It can be difficult to get rid of items, and you may try to make excuses as to why you need to keep something. Take a step back, think about it honestly, and make the decision to get rid of anything unnecessary—it will make your move much easier.

Get a Different Perspective

Look at it this way: This your chance to be who you want to be. Give yourself permission to be happy and positive about your new life. Your attitude makes all the difference in the world.

Make Over Your Wardrobe

Real estate agent Sandra Hughes recommends you find a local charity to donate your unwanted clothing and household goods to or sell these items in a garage sale. Then treat yourself to a new wardrobe after your move—you’ll get a new look to match your new perspective. You’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into your move; reward yourself!

Throw a Packing Party

Invite your best friends and family members over to help pack up your home. Provide snacks, drinks and pizza and get to work think of it as a little party that helps you get out with the old and in with the new. This can be both an exciting and nostalgic time, if you focus on happy memories and the new ones you’ll make in your new home.

Whether you are starting over in a new city and state, or you’re simply moving to another part of town, take this opportunity by the reigns. Own it, take control of your attitude and approach your move as a fresh start and new chapter in the storybook of your life. With this attitude, when you look around at all the unpacked boxes in your new home, you won’t feel overwhelmed or filled with panic—you’ll be excited and ready to dive head first into your new life.

 

Jessica Allan

Jessica is a broker and freelance writer for several real estate and finance blogs.