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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: Scan Identity Documents from Your Wallet

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it may feel like you’ve lost your life. What’s worse, you know that you have a lot of work to do to cancel your credit cards and get new copies of your identity documents. But fear not, you can avoid a major headache by following a few simple steps. In this, the first of a three part series presented by Control Your ID and SafelyFiled, we will cover some easy yet important steps to help you use digital tools to protect your identity.

First, take a quick inventory of your wallet. We recommend you take everything out, and force each item to earn its way back in – you might be surprised that you are still carrying around a coupon that expired five years ago. Even if you don’t take everything out, take out the things a criminal might be interested in. Take out credit and debit cards, government identification, and perhaps even gift cards or other valuable items that you wouldn’t want to lose.

Second, make a copy of the front and back of each of these important documents. If you have a flatbed scanner, you can make color copies of 10 or 12 documents all at once. If you don’t have one we recommend you place each document on a plain white piece of paper near a good source of natural light and use take a digital photo with a smartphone or camera. Best results are usually achieved by holding the camera 18 inches above the card, focusing on the printed card, and using the flash unless you have plenty of light. Make sure you examine each photo for legibility and don’t forget to take a photo of the back. That’s often where a credit card will display a toll free customer service number which you’ll need to call if the card is lost.

Third, store these digital files somewhere safe.  A paper copy at home is a good first step.  But many people lose their wallets while on vacation or traveling for business.  If you’re a thousand miles from home, that paper copy sitting in a desk drawer is not much help.  And keeping them on your smart phone is risky.  So consider a secure service like SafelyFiled that lets you access digital copies from anywhere in the world and keeps them safe from hackers. Your important files can and should be kept digitally secure through encryption, findable and available any time.

Taking these easy steps will take just a few minutes but will help you greatly if you lose your wallet. In parts two and three of this series, we will cover storing your personal identity records and managing your identity recovery if you fall victim to identity theft. For added identity protection, Control Your ID provides identity monitoring and restoration services and is offering our blog subscribers an excellent offer.

Safeguard your identity with a free, three-month membership of Control Your ID's Comprehensive Level identity protection service (regularly $99.90 per year).  No credit card or cost is required.  To get the offer, subscribe to our email list to the right by: submitting your name, email address and entering 'CYID1' in the message box. Subscribe by August 21, 2015 (11:59 p.m. PDT) to qualify.

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