Identity Theft occurs when someone wrongfully uses your personal identification to obtain credit, loans, services, even rentals and mortgages in your name. They may even commit crimes while impersonating you!
Identity theft can be an overwhelming frightening experience if it happens to you. But the good thing are there are ways to fix it as well as avoid it.
1. Buy a cross-cut type shredder – These in-expensive shredders usually range from $30 to $80. Shred all your important papers and mail. Especially pre-approved credit card applications. Also shred your credit card receipts.
2.Dumpster Diving – Never throw anything away that contains personal information. Anything that identifies you personally should be shredded.
3.ATM’s and Phone Calls – Believe it or not people actually shoulder surf for pin numbers. Beware and be careful when giving personal information in public.
4.Check Delivery – Have your checks delivered to your bank. Avoid having them sent to your house, as they have been known to be stolen and altered with an acid wash.
5.Don’t Mail checks from home – Drop them in at a U.S Mailbox or Post offices. These also are easy to alter by an acid wash.
6.Cancel old credit cards – Cancel all credit cards that you have not used in the last 6 months. Open credit is a prime target to thieves.
7. Use Passwords! – Make sure not to use your mothers maiden name. Also make sure to use something hard to guess like words and numbers.
8. Get a post office box or locked mailbox.
9. Protect your information – When at a doctors office etc. make sure they protect your information and shred other documents.
10.Empty your wallet of all extra credit cards and social security numbers, etc. Do not carry any identifiers you do not need. Don’t carry your birth certificate, social security card, or passport, unless necessary
11.Do not put your telephone number on your checks.
12.Do not put your credit card account number on the Internet (unless it is encrypted on a secured site.) Don’t put account numbers on the outside of envelopes, or on your checks.
13. Take your name of promotional lists.
Experian: (888) 567-8688
Equifax: (888) 567-8688
TransUnion: (888) 567-8688
Write to the following to get off promotional lists:
Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service P. O. Box 9008 Farmingdale, NY 11735 Direct Marketing Association Telephone Preference Service P. O. Box 9014 Farmingdale, NY 11735
14. Consider making your phone an unlisted number or just use an initial.
These are just a few ways to keep yourself safe from fraudulent thieves. Also remember everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year.