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Identity Theft Protection Tips
January 2005

Identity theft is when someone uses your unique information such as your name, credit card number, social security number, address and other information without your permission and then proceeds to commit fraud. Identity theft victims sometimes have to take months, even years to resolve the havoc created by identity theft!

You should take preventative steps to make sure identity theft doesn't happen to you.

  1. Keep an eye on your credit card receipts. They can contain your full account number and expiration date. Take them home the day you get them and put them in a box instead of keeping them in your wallet or purse.
  2. Get a shredder and shred any financial information you don't need anymore such as credit card and ATM slips and bank statements.
  3. Make sure you shred those credit card offers you get in the mail every day. Thieves dig through trash and send these offers in to get credit using your good name. To help limit this potential area for fraud and also stop these pre-approved credit card offers from ever reaching your mailbox, you can opt out by calling 1 (888) 5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688).
  4. Watch your bank statements. Make sure you get your statement in the mail every month and if you have online banking, log in a few times a month to keep an eye out for suspicious transactions.
  5. Order and review your credit report at least one time every year. Not only will you be able to head off any errors, but you will also be able to spot any potential fraud activity. You can review your credit report online at myFico.com
  6. When shopping online, make sure that your transaction is secure (look for the padlock symbol on the bottom of your web browser and make sure the web address starts with https://, not http://.
  7. Look for security related information when shopping online, such as a privacy policy and special seals and symbols from Trust-E, Better Business Bureau, and Verisign.
  8. Never click or respond to any emails from trusted online sites such as eBay, America Online, Paypal or Amazon.com asking for you to provide personal financial information such as a credit card number even if it looks like it is coming from their web address. It is their policy not to request this information in an email. One of the most common ways for identity theft to occur online is through unsolicited emails requesting your financial information.
  9. Protect your computer from spyware and other hacking tools. This is becoming a major problem over the last year. If you have popups all over your computer when you surf, download and install free programs such as Adaware and Spybot. A program that I personally use is Giant Anti-spyware because it is very highly rated and provides real-time protection to stop spyware from even being downloaded to your PC in the first place.
  10. Don't carry your Social Security Card with you.
  11. Use only a few credit cards. This way it is easier to keep track of them.
  12. If you are mailing your bills, don't put them in or on your mailbox for your mail carrier to take. Take them to the mailbox or the post office. Believe it or not, it has become quite safe to pay your bills online instead of mailing them in the old fashioned way. Fewer people will have the opportunity to process your payment if you pay your bills online.
  13. Never provide your personal or financial information to anyone who calls you on the telephone unsolicited.

I hope that these identity theft prevention tips are helpful to you. If you can think of any other useful ideas I would love to hear them! Send me an email at [email protected]

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