Q:

How do you protect your identity?

A:

Quick Answer

As of 2012, ways to protect your identity include credit monitoring, using a smart card and adding protective measures to your smartphone. Since identity theft has become so difficult to accurately detect, it usually results in high costs to consumers who become victims.

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Full Answer

Credit monitoring services automatically review an individual's credit on a daily basis in order to detect fraudulent charges or suspicious activity. While an individual can get a copy of his credit report to check for discrepancies and fraudulent charges, he usually has to pay more if the charge occurred a long time ago. In 2012, it cost roughly $120 to $180 a year for credit monitoring services, but there are some companies that offer the service for free.

Smart cards, or a plastic card with a built-in microprocessor, are made to be more secure than traditional cards that use magnetic strips. Instead of a signature, the cardholder has to use a unique PIN. Smart cards are slowly gaining in popularity in the U.S., but one of the biggest obstacles to them being more widespread is that they require new merchant card terminals, which can be expensive to install.

Forbes recommends that a consumer password protect his phone, use remote tracking in the event his phone is stolen, deactivate Bluetooth when not in use and research apps before downloading them to ensure they're legitimate.

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