Friday, April 01, 2011

How to Keep Yourself Safe from Idenity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise all throughout the world. You or someone you know may have already been a victim of identity theft. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Yes, that’s 9 million! So what exactly is Identity theft? The crime can take on many forms. It could be somebody using your credit card number, check fraud, someone applying and getting a loan in your name and much more. How can this effect the victim? It can sometimes be cleared up easily, but most of the time it could take years and several hundreds of dollars to clean up the mess left behind. It can even cause some people to be denied jobs and loans when applying.

So how can you safeguard your information and stop from being a victim of identity theft? Here are 10 easy steps to help prevent identity theft:

1. Monitor your Credit Report – Your credit report will show all your credit accounts and who has been making inquiries on your credit. Examine this each month and make sure there aren’t any new accounts showing up that you don’t know anything about. There are many credit monitoring services available online that you can sign up for, just make sure it a reputable secure website.

2. Shop Only on Secure Websites – All secure websites will begin with “https://” instead of just “http://. You can also look for a padlock or key on your browser that you can click on for security information. When you use a secure site you know that your data is being encrypted.

3. Use Credit Card Not Debit Card Online – Credit Cards have maximum liability of $50.00, while debit cards can have a liability up to $500. It is also a lot easier to call up your credit card company to dispute a charge and you will get your money back a lot faster than from a bank debit card.

4. Setup a Strong Password – When signing up on websites that have your personal information choose a password that begins with an uppercase letter and also includes numbers and letters in it. That way it will be easier for someone to figure out.

5. Wipe Memory on Old PCs – If you are selling or getting rid of an old PC with personal information on it, wipe the memory with special software.

6. Never give out personal information or Credit Card info over the phone – Only do this is you have dealt with company before and know them to be trustworthy.

7. Reduce Amount of Credit Cards – Get rid of old credit cards you never use. It limits the chance that they may be lost or stolen. Make sure to shred the old cards.

8. Lock Up Personal Documents – Don’t carry around social security cards and birth certificates with you. Keep them locked up in safe or safety deposit box

9. Safeguard your Purse and Wallet – Lock up your purse or wallet at work. Never leave them unattended

10. Mail Checks from Post Office – Never mail checks from your home mailbox. They could be stolen out of there and a criminal would have all your banking information.



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