Tornadoes have torn through several central states, flattening neighborhoods, wiping out businesses, and injuring and killing many people.
Communities may take years to recover from the effects of a twister. Residents of areas affected by twisters can take steps before and after to protect their families — and their identities. Here are four immediate steps to take after a disaster:
1. Call your bank, credit union, insurer or financial planner to see if it offers identity theft management services. Some financial institutions offer this service for free, as a perk for being a member or account holder.
2. Protect important information and documents. Whether you’re in a shelter, staying with friends or crashing on your family’s couch, never let these items leave your sight. They are the key to your identity — and you will need this information to prove who you are.
3. Be proactive and check your credit report. Consider adding an initial security alert to your credit report.
4. Ask the post office to hold your mail until you return home. This will keep thieves from finding sensitive materials that are left in your mailbox.
If you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft or wish to proactively manage your identity, check with your insurance company, financial institution, or employee benefits provider.
An unexplained change in your credit scores can also tip you off to possible ID theft or fraud.
You can monitor two of your scores monthly, for free, with an account through Credit.com.