Identity Theft – Part 1

Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in America. If you’ve ever had an unauthorized charge on your credit card, you’ve probably been a victim of identity theft. It can be much more serious than that, too. People and families have had significant harm done to them as a result of unauthorized loans, use of their Social Security number. Life savings have been lost. If you think that only certain types of people could possibly get caught up in this issue, and you aren’t that stupid, think again. A new scam is being devised by some thief every day.

Hopefully, you never become a victim of identity theft. To prevent identity theft from happening to you, here are 10 tips that will make it more difficult for you to be a victim.

Order a copy of your credit report. By looking at your credit report you can tell if any unauthorized loans have made made in your name, or if inquiries about your credit have been made without your knowledge. Federal law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency every twelve months.

Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.
Always review your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity.
Shred or destroy any papers or documents that have your name, any account numbers, any personal or financial information on them, instead of throwing them away in the trash.
Minimize the number of credit cards you use. You don’t need more than 2 or 3. If you use credit cards online, use a specific credit card for those purchases.
Don’t carry your Social Security Card in your wallet. If you believe that your Social Security number is being used for identity theft, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271.
Be wary of anyone calling on the phone to confirm information, or solicit donations by credit card. Any legitimate organization will mail the information to you to the address they have on file. If they have no address on file, don’t give it to them.
Memorize all your passwords and PIN numbers. Don’t make them obvious or easy for thieves to figure out.
Keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards and your driver license so that if they are stolen, you have the information all in one place to notify the proper people.
If you shop online, use secure web sites and do business with companies that are known to you.

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