Identity theft and fraud are no fun. While nothing is foolproof, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to help you avoid identity theft. Keep your identity intact with these helpful tips. Print them out and share them with your loved ones.
(1) Stop Sharing Info Freely – Sharing is wonderful, however, not in the world of identity theft. So stop openly giving out your confidential information so quickly and easily, especially when it’s not needed. For example, do not write your drivers license number, social security number and phone number on your checks for clerks, delivery people or anyone. And tell others not to write the info on your checks either. Any number of people can recover this information en route from the time you step away from the check out area until the check actually reaches the bank’s check routing department. And any number of people can intercept the information from the time the pizza delivery person leaves your house with your check, or from the time you fax your information to its destination.
So leave private information off checks and other documents. When in doubt, call to make sure what exactly is needed, then give important numbers via phone if necessary. Determine the best way to get the information to its destination safely.
(2) Do not give out private information if someone calls you. For example, if someone calls saying they are from your bank, credit card company or anywhere…even if they say you won the lottery… do not give out your information. Instead, get theirs and check them out first. Call back or call the local police to see if the party sounds criminal. You should only give out information if you instigate or place the call, not the other way around.
(3) Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with them. If you click on their website at: http://www.bbb.org you will find that the Better Business Bureau provides reports on more than 2 million organizations. Companies with negative feedback will have a lot of reports filed and often descriptions. So you’ll want to avoid transactions and applications with these businesses.
(4) Know how to read your credit bureau information and get a regular read out to make sure theft has not occurred; i. e. accounts are not there that shouldn’t be, balances are what they should be, etc. This should be done at least annually.
(5) Stop pre-approved credit card offers flooding your mailbox. And get removed from other marketing lists you do not need. Simply write to P. O. Box 919, Allen, TX 75013 or call (800) 353-0809 or (888) 5optout.
(6) While you are traveling, have your mail held at the post office, so other people can’t stop by and check out your mail. Also when calling in and using ATMs, take caution to speak quietly and key any numbers and other information in with discretion. For example, with credit card transactions outside your locale, your credit card company may call for verification to make sure your card hasn’t been stolen. Tell them you are in a public area and wait for privacy to verify your mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.
(7) Maintain your privacy by getting on the Do Not Call list at: https://www.donotcall. gov This service is free of charge and helps keep unwanted callers down to a minimum.
(8) Check your regular monthly bank and credit card statements to make sure all transactions are yours and balances are what they should be. Contact the financial institutions for anything that does not add up: transactions that you do not recognize, balances that are not right, etc.
Stay alert and learn to protect yourself. Information is one of the best tools against identity theft.
Bernard Pragides is an author and offers expert advice and tips regarding identity theft. Please visit his site www.IdentityProtek.com for more helpful information