Colorado is going through its worst wildfire season in a decade. More than half a dozen wildfires are burning across the state, threatening tourist destinations, small businesses and homes. The latest one near Colorado Springs forced more than 32,000 people to evacuate the area.
Our experts outline key tips to protect your identity and the identities of your loved ones:
1. Create a family ID theft protection plan. Make front-and-back copies of personal documents and store them in a safe deposit box. That includes birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, as well as Social Security, voter’s registration and medical insurance cards. Don’t forget credit and debit cards. Consider storing everything in an encrypted file to access online.
2. Store irreplaceable items in the cloud. It’s easy and affordable to store irreplaceable items in an online vault. This includes special family photographs, and historical, estate and trust documents.
3. Protect important information and documents. Whether you’re in a shelter, staying with friends or crashing on your family’s couch, never let identity-related items on your person—a driver’s license, passport—leave your sight. They are the key to your identity—and you will need this information to prove who you are.
4. Ask the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail until you return home. Look at getting a post office box. This will keep thieves from finding sensitive materials that are left in your mailbox.
5. Watch out for post-disaster scams. Beware of identity thieves who may call, text or email you soliciting donations. Think twice before you give them money and/or personal information. Donate money to well-known charities.
6. Be proactive and check your credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
7. Stay charged. Keep your cell phones and PDAs charged. Pack extra chargers in the event of evacuation.
Finally, if you suspect your identity has been stolen, contact your providers. Your insurer, bank, credit union or membership organization may provide you with free credit monitoring and identity theft resolutions services from Identity Theft 911. Or call our toll-free number: 1-888-682-5911.
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