Moving to a new home takes intense preparation, physical labor and tedious administrative tasks like switching all your utilities to a new address. During a hectic move, you’re uniquely vulnerable to identity theft as criminals can take advantage of forgotten documents or confusion over addresses to steal your identity.
Make sure you’re safeguarding your identity as well as your valuables when you move. Here’s how to help protect your identity when you move to a new home.
1. Update Your Address
Be sure to update your address with the post office by submitting a change of address form. You need to answer basic questions like your old address, your new address and when they should start forwarding your mail.
This is important because it helps ensure your mail isn’t sent to the wrong people or sitting vulnerable in an unchecked mailbox. Many pieces of mail contain personal details that can be used to commit identity theft.
Once you’re moved, make sure to update your address with all the companies you do business with, including banks, retirement accounts, doctor’s offices, utility services and others.
2. Keep Sensitive Documents with You
Personal documents like birth certificates, Social Security cards, financial statements and more should be stored safely in a lockbox when they’re at home. You should personally keep track of them when you move; make sure they’re with you at all times. Hired movers, family or friends can possibly misplace or even intentionally steal sensitive documents that leave your identity vulnerable to theft.
3. Shred Old Documents
Don’t throw away old documents as you clean out your old home. Paper documents can be stolen from the trash and used to commit fraud. Destroy old documents using a paper shredder before throwing them away. If you don’t have a paper shredder, hand shred your documents at the very least.
4. Hire Reputable Movers
If you’re hiring movers to help you get your stuff to your new home, make sure you’re hiring a reputable company. Do online research to make sure the company has a good reputation – check online reviews and look for complaints with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Ask trusted family and friends for referrals. Make sure to get quotes from multiple companies.
5. Monitor Your Credit Report After You Move
You should always monitor your credit report to watch for signs of identity theft, but this is an especially good idea after you move. But with the chaos involved in moving, setting up your new home, coordinating with utility companies and other third parties, it’s easy for stuff to fall through the cracks.
Consider signing up with an established credit monitoring service that watches your identity for you and keeps you in the loop when there is possible suspicious activity.