Basic Steps to Avoid Identity Theft


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In the modern digital world, identity theft is a serious concern. Avoiding identity theft is all about using your common sense.

Identity theft is simply what is says. Someone steals your identity for the purpose of using it for a fraudulent transaction. The fraudulent transaction can be many different things. For instance, most people know that the fraud can come in the form of charging things to your account or trying to open new credit accounts, such as credit cards. What most people don’t realize is the information can also be used to supply false identifications for others needing a new identity, such as illegal immigrants in need of documentation for work or medical services.

Playing for identity theft is all about decreasing your odds of having a problem. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely be sure you are covered because you have no control over businesses that have your information. That is just life. There are, however, steps you can take to limit your exposure.

First and foremost, you need to either keep or shred any documents that have critical personal financial information on them. When you get credit card statements in the mail, you need to make sure to shred them when you are done with them. Dumpster diving is a common technique used by thieves to find information. The same goes for cutting up and shredding expired credit cards. If it has a number on it, make sure it is destroyed regardless of what it is.

The second biggest step you can take has to do with email communications. If you receive an email that requires you to provide sensitive information, you should never click the link in the email to get to the site. It is easy to copy a site or the look of a site and stick it in an email advertisement. If you need to go the site, click over to Google, Yahoo or MSN and search for the site. By taking this step, you avoid all the potential scams in email communications.

The newest area of identity theft has to do with taxes. Specifically, thieves are sending out emails purportedly from the IRS. Don’t fall for it! The IRS NEVER communicates by email. If you have any doubts whatsoever about whether you have a tax issue, you should pick up the phone and call the IRS. Remember, every single “IRS email" is a scam trying to swipe your identity. Don’t fall for it.

At the moment this article was written, it was out of date. Why? There is a new scam floating around every day. Follow the steps above and you will be doing more than most to prevent your identity from being stolen. That being said, you should also use your common sense when evaluating situations.

Richard A. Chapo is with - incorporate in California .


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