Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

On February 23, 2015, in Uncategorized, by John Enger

More than 10 million people are victims of identity theft each year. The most common forms of identity theft are government documents and benefits fraud, followed by credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud and bank fraud. Those who steal your identity can damage your reputation and your credit status, in addition to costing you time and money. Follow these tips to protect yourself:
  • Guard your social security number. Don't carry your card and only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Create hard-to-guess PINs and make sure you change them every so often.
  • Keep your PINs private. Avoid writing a PIN on a credit or debit card, or on a slip of paper.
  • Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away for more than a few days.
  • Watch for routine mail. If bills or statements are late, contact the sender.
  • Keep receipts. Compare receipts with account statements to monitor for unauthorized transactions.
  • Shred unwanted documents like receipts, account statements and expired cards.
  • Cut up credit offers that come in the mail.
  • Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
  • Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online. The IRS, for example, doesn't request information via email.
  • Fortify your home computer by installing firewalls, virus-detection software and updated security.
  • Check your credit report once a year to monitor unauthorized activity.

The Federal Trade Commission has a series of articles on "Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft," which includes advice for placing a fraud alert and creating an identity theft report. This helpful information can be found on the FTC website. (This link will be published on a New Page.  To get back to the Claremont site, click on the 'X' in the upper right hand corner and chose Close Current Tab.)

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