How to protect your identity after a disaster

By Elvis Huff on March 12, 2020
7 minute read

I have received several calls over the past few days about how to protect your identity after a disaster. Many people’s homes have been damaged, or even destroyed, and their sensitive information may have been displaced due to the storms.

Now that things are calmer, and the response phase is moving into the cleanup phase, I wanted to share some tips on what you can do to protect your identity after a disaster.

  1. Take it slow – one step at a time
    • Avoid things that are unclear to you – you have just been through a disaster. Take your time and go slow. If you need help, ask someone.
  2. Assess what can be salvaged from your home – gather sensitive items
    • When you are able, go to your home and sort through your belongings. Be sure to grab any remaining sensitive information items.
  3. Stop/forward your mail– USPS Informed Delivery
    • This is a free tool from the USPS designed to assist you with your mail delivery. Sign up here and read my full article about it here
    • You may consider getting a post office box if you are going to be displaced for a long period of time and do not want to forward your mail.
  4. Download your bank’s mobile app – check your accounts
    • Checking your accounts often is a great way to detect the first sign of fraud and stop the fraud before it escalates.
  5. Get replacement debit/credit cards and turn off lost ones
    • If you do not have your debit or credit cards, get new ones from your bank.
  6. Get a replacement driver’s license if needed
    • Your ID, or driver’s license, is a legal requirement. If needed, go to any DMV to get a new one.
  7. Get replacement Social Security card
      • If needed, get a replacement Social Security Card. Click here to learn more about this process and how to request one electronically.
  8. Sign up for e-statements – critical accounts
    • Look at your most critical accounts – bank, credit card, retirement, investments, etc. Consider creating an account online to manage these and sign up for electronic statements to be delivered to your email.
  9. Consider putting an alert or freeze on your credit
    • If needed, consider placing an alert or freeze on your credit. You can contact the three credit bureaus here:
    • Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
    • Experian — 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
  10. Beware of scams
    • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of things that do not make sense to you. Scammers target those affected by disasters to play on your emotions. Reach out and ask for help from someone you know if things seem a little sketchy.

Wilson Bank & Trust is here for you. Should you need help, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our offices or call us at (844) WBT-BANK (844-928-2265).

Have another thought, tip or suggestion? Leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Posted by Elvis Huff

Elvis Huff worked as an officer and network administrator for 12 years with the Lebanon Police Department and has also served as an adjunct professor in information systems at Cumberland University. Read More »

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