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Identity Theft Protection Tips


If it seems like identity theft is on the rise then you are right - It’s not your imagination. Experts report more people than ever have become victims of identity theft or have been exposed to the risk of identity theft. Fortunately, identity theft protection isn’t difficult once you know how. In fact, there are several easy to implement steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming an identity theft victim. To get started simply make it a habit to use these smart tips:

  1. Don’t Disclose Your Social Security Number. Except for those with a “need to know” it is never a good idea to disclose your Social Security number. Valid examples include medical, employment, tax or insurance applications. Always be cautious if someone calls or requests additional information by phone or email – if you have supplied the information then it should be on file. Request a phone number to call back then verify it is the same number on your documentation before providing the information.

  2. Protect Important Documents. Trash and mail can carry important information including credit card numbers, Social Security information, bank or checking account and other details about your life that a criminal can use to steal your identity. Use a locking mail box or Post Office box to protect your mail and take time to shred your trash before putting it out for pick-up.

  3. Encryption and Passwords. The internet is a valuable resource but like anything else, caution is advised. Use encryption software, strong password protection and only do business with reputable companies when buying on the Internet.

  4. Credit Check. Everyone is allowed one free credit report each year and it is a good idea to take advantage of the offer to verify everything is in order. If you notice new accounts, mailing address or other inaccurate information then follow the directions to report the errors. Depending upon the severity it might be a good idea to put a credit freeze on the account or report it to the authorities. To obtain a free annual credit report visit: www.annualcreditreport.com.

  5. Bank & Balance Alerts. Sign up for automatic notification on savings, checking and credit card accounts to be notified when they are used. If you notice suspicious activity, contact the bank immediately.

  6. Sign Up for the “Do Not Call” Registry. One way to avoid identity theft is to sign up for the national “Do Not Call” registry at www.DoNotCall.gov. It’s a quick and easy way to eliminate telemarketers and others who may try to obtain information.

  7. Close Compromised Accounts. If you suspect an account could be compromised or if you have lost a wallet, purse or other items containing sensitive information then immediately call your bank, credit cards and other loans to close the account. It is also a good idea to contact the major credit reporting agencies to request an alert or freeze at:

    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.

    Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.

    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.

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