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As the peak moving season begins, millions of Americans are preparing to make a residential move. During this busy moving time, identity thieves and unscrupulous movers are ready to take advantage of unsuspecting households. If you are one of the many planning to relocate this summer, the following moving tips on ways to avoid identity theft and moving scams will help protect you from becoming a victim.
Identity Thefts & Moving Scams Can Make Moving a Nightmare
Moving your household is stressful enough without worrying about the threat of identity theft or becoming the victim of a moving scam. But both occur often enough to warrant taking precautions.
Identity theft has been the number one consumer complaint for the last 15 years, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Someone becomes a victim of identity fraud every two seconds.
Most moving companies are legitimate, reputable businesses, so moving scams do not occur nearly as often as identity theft. But every year a small percentage of movers make moving day a disaster for many by robbing or taking advantage of their customers.
6 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft During a Move
Moving puts you at a higher risk for identity theft. Mail and other documents with sensitive information can easily become accessible to thieves as you are packing and moving between residences. The following tips offer ways to help avoid identity theft during your peak season move:
- Hire a reputable mover. During the peak moving season, the cost for professional moving services increase. Good movers are busy, so scheduling a move on your preferred pickup and delivery dates can be difficult. Avoid the temptation of hiring the first mover you find online offering a low estimate for a move on your selected dates. Research the company first. Hiring a reputable, licensed mover helps increase your protection against identity theft as well as moving scams. (Scroll down to read more about moving scams.)
- Submit a Change of Address to the US Postal Service 10 days before your move. You don't want anyone else receiving your mail.
- If you are selling your home, make sure mail and any documents with personal data are inaccessible during an open house.
- Moving is an ideal time to clean out old files and get rid of what is no longer needed, but do not throw any papers with sensitive data in the trash without first shredding. If you don't already own one, you can buy a cross-cut shredder for under $30. It is money well spent.
- If possible, take your sensitive documents with you when moving rather than sending them on the moving truck. If you are unable to do so, make sure the documents are securely stored in a locked cabinet or container.
- After your move, closely monitor your credit card and bank statements for the next three months for any fraudulent charges. Consider enrolling in an identity theft and credit monitoring service. Request a free credit report a few months after your move and carefully review it for any new accounts opened in your name.
Take Precautions to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Moving Scam
As the peak moving season begins each year, we see consumer warnings and moving tips about how to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. The work of government officials and industry organizations put a stop to many of those moving scams. But news reports about the recent arrest of movers authorities say robbed customers' by picking up their possessions and never returning them prove you must still take precautions. (See the latest news about moving scams.)
Protect yourself and your property. Taking a few extra precautions can make the difference between a successful, stress-free move and a nightmare that continues for months to come.