You gotta feel for these guys. NFL rookies like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have spent so much time moving around and traveling the past few years they probably haven’t had much time to spend the millions of dollars from their signing bonuses.
Once they settle down, though—you know, get into a steady, relaxing routine of being chased by giant defensive linemen and trying to live up to the pressure of being starting quarterbacks in football-hungry towns at age 22—they might want to take one of those Monday mornings and think about identity theft.
People who change addresses frequently, or whose work takes them on the road a lot, can be vulnerable to identity theft. They sometimes:
• Misplace important documents in transit, or leave them in unsecured places.
• Use credit and debit cards frequently, at businesses that might have varying degrees of security.
• Fail to monitor credit reports and account activity as often as they should.
Luck grew up all over the world, attending schools in London and Frankfurt before returning stateside and attending high school in Texas. He became a star football player, and turned down a certain No. 1 selection in the NFL draft in 2011, following his second season, so he could graduate this year. He became the top pick anyway, by the Indianapolis Colts, and signed a four-year contract worth $22.1 million, plus a $14.5 million signing bonus.
Griffin was born in Japan to Army parents (service members also are vulnerable to identity theft), was also a blue-chip high school recruit in Texas, and chose Baylor University, where he was a standout hurdler as well as a quarterback. “RGIII” won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top player, and was selected No. 2 in the NFL draft, by the Washington Redskins. He signed a four-year contract worth $21.1 million, plus a $13.8 million signing bonus.
Talk about living out of a suitcase: In addition to attending the draft festivities in New York and the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, there were TV and personal appearances, and then there’s the business of business for these young men: They each went through training camp with their respective teams (Luck in Anderson, Ind., 40 miles from Indy; Griffin in Ashburn, Va., 40 miles from Washington, D.C.), and four preseason games in various cities.
This week, half the players are on the road and half are sleeping in their own cozy mansions in preparation for opening week: The Cowboys and Giants begin the season Wednesday night in the New Jersey Meadowlands, while the rest of the league kicks off this Sunday.
Of course, millionaire athletes have an army of people (both professionals and flunkies) helping them protect their assets. But they (and the rest of us idol-worshipping, mere fans) don’t need a lawyer to follow these simple preventive steps to keep sensitive information secure:
1. Before you move, notify the U.S. Postal Service, IRS and businesses you deal with. Fill out a change of address form online at moversguide.usps.com. Also be sure to notify employers, financial institutions, creditors, utilities and any catalogs or magazines you subscribe to. Complete the IRS Change Request Form 8822, available online at www.irs.gov, to assure receipt of refunds and IRS correspondence.
2. Hire a professional shredder before hiring a mover. During a move when there are piles of papers to discard, a professional shredding company can reduce paper waste into confetti in minutes.
3. Scan as much as possible. It doesn’t make sense to transport and store unnecessary boxes. Scanning important documents eliminates the need to keep countless paper copies. Plus, scans are much easier to access from a home computer after the move.
4. Make sure important items stay close at hand and out of the moving van. This includes purse, wallet, credit and debit cards, passports, birth certificate, medical records, insurance policies, financial records, computer backups, software and airplane tickets.
5. A month after your move, check to make sure old accounts are closed and mail is coming to the new residence. This includes credit information, loan documents, bank statements, and retirement account information.
6. Three months after the move, it’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report. For details, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
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