September 24, 2017
 
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Identity Theft Reduce Your Risk

If you or a loved one have been a victim of identity theft, you know how overwhelming and devastating it can be. In 2006, 9.9 million Americans fell victim, costing an estimated $5 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. What can be done to prevent it? There are definitely steps you can take in order to protect yourself.

Don’t give out your personal information. This may seem like a no brainer, but people naively provide this to solicitors over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet. Unless you’ve initiated the contact, never do this.

Guard your mail and trash from theft. Leave your mail in secured post office mailboxes, rather than in an unsecured mailbox, like at the end of your driveway. Don’t leave your mail piling up in your box and if you’re planning on being away from home for a while, request a hold on your mail. Also, shred receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, medical statements, bank statements, etc. before throwing them out.

Don’t carry your Social Security Card. Memorize it. Only give out your number when absolutely necessary, such as applying for a mortgage or signing up for utilities. Remember, you don’t have to give your social security number to a business just because they asked for it.

Know your billing cycles. Check your statements on a monthly basis. Was your payment received? Are there any questionable charges? A missing bill or payment could mean trouble.

Be wary of scams.  Identity thieves use phone or email scams (called “phishing”) to get you to give out your personal information. They may even pose as a banker to “verify” your account numbers and social security number. Don’t respond. Call your banking institution to inform them.

Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work. Don’t leave it out on your desk in plain view.

Pay attention at ATM’s and while using debit cards. When keying in pin numbers, be careful. “Shoulder Surfers” can get the number to access your accounts. Always take your transaction receipts with you. Memorize your pin numbers instead of writing them down.

Remember, anyone can be a victim of identity theft and just taking some of these simple precautions can reduce your risk.

If you find you are struggling with
credit card debt, please contact a credit counseling company today.

 

 

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