Like most families, yours most likely spends a considerable portion of its income on either a home mortgage or rent. Therefore, naturally, you want to protect that considerable investment.
A home is not just a roof over one's head — it's also the storage place for years' worth of precious personal property in which crucial information about one's identity is likely kept.
If someone accesses your mail, computers and electronic files, financial statements, or other important personal documents such as birth certificates, passports and Social Security cards or numbers, that person could use that vital information to steal your identity.
Identity thieves can open new bank accounts in your name, buy cars, get a tax refund, among many other things that could potentially wreak havoc on your life.
So what are the best ways to protect your home? Besides locking all the doors and windows every day — and perhaps even cultivating a friendly relationship with one's neighbors so you look out for each other's homes — there are a variety of steps you can take to help secure not only your home but the wealth of personal information inside of it as well.
Here are some other simple tips to help you protect your identity and your home:
- Buy a safe for valuables and secure your mailbox. Valuables aren’t just jewelry or cash, they are also documents that contain sensitive information about your identity like your passport, Social Security card and mortgage paperwork. Shred paperwork you don’t need to keep, and put what you do need to keep in a safe. The safe will not only discourage burglars from accessing your valuables and documents, but can protect them in case of a fire or flood.
Alternatively, open a security deposit box at your bank and use it.
Also, put a lock on your mailbox or use a mail slot so that not just anyone outside can access your mail and gather personal information about your identity.
- Lock Down the Wi-Fi in your home by using a strong password and updating it regularly — at least every 90 days. If the wireless router allows it, set up a couple of private Wi-Fi networks — one for connected home devices and another for computers, tablets and smartphones — and disable guest access.
- Disconnect devices from the Internet when not being used. Yes, it’s more convenient to just shut your laptop or put your desktop in Sleep mode at the end of the night so it boots up faster in the morning, but that can leave your device vulnerable. Completely shutting down your device—or at the very least, disconnecting it from the Internet—potentially making it less vulnerable to hacking.
- Invest in a home security system, which can earn you a lower home insurance or personal property insurance rate.
- Consider enrolling in an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. With several plan options, even though no one can prevent identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses, having identity theft protection can alert you to possible identity threats, and help to restore your good name if you become a victim.