Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft in 4 Easy Steps

 Who hasn’t heard about the Target stores’ security breach that occurred during the recent holiday season? I am sure we all know someone who was affected by this security scare as they routinely used their store credit card to pay for holiday purchases. While the victims of this breach could not control their circumstances, incidents like these are a friendly (or not so friendly) reminder that credit card security and identity theft are a fact of our everyday lives. So what can you do to make sure that your own actions don’t lead to an identity theft nightmare?

  1. Routinely check your Credit Report. Go to, where you can access a free report from each of the credit reporting agencies once per year. Consider requesting one report every four months to keep an eye on your credit activity.
  2. Limit the number of cards you own and monitor them actively. Review your account activity at least monthly when you receive your statement to make sure that all charges are legitimate.
  3. Do not give identifying numbers or financial information over the phone, by e-mail, or in person unless you are sure of the person you providing information to. Be careful not to e-mail important numbers – Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
  4. Shred documents with personal information or store them in a locked cabinet or safety deposit box. Prevent easy access to your personal information.

Taking these simple steps does not guarantee that you won’t be a victim, but can go a long way towards preventing the opportunity for fraud, or catching it early in the process.

Contact your financial planner about this and other credit and identity theft issues.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012 and 2013, Sandy was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

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