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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
By Nicole Soltau

One of the prime axioms in life is just when you think it
couldn't
happen to you, it does. This is a sad fact, and even more so when
you consider the crime of identity theft. You take years to
establish your financial and individual identity and reputation, and
in one moment the illegal act of another washes it all away wreaking
havoc on your financial life. The reasons for identity theft are as
varied as the circumstances of the unsuspecting victims. There are
ways to protect yourself. Being diligent and using common sense can
go a long way in preventing this troublesome event from happening in
your life. Following are some steps to consider.

1. Protecting your information

Keep your social security card separate from your other
identification, leaving it at home if at all possible. Have a sheet
with all of your credit card numbers and companies listed and in a
safe place, so in the event of theft you can call quickly to cancel
the accounts.

2. Limit preprinted check information

Checks are another potential bonanza for an identity thief. Even
though it may make checking out a little harder, only put your basic
information (name, address, maybe a phone number) on your checks.
This will prevent an ID thief from getting your drivers license or
social security number off a check left lying around.

3. Properly dispose of sensitive information after it no longer
is needed.

The identity thief is not above digging in a dumpster for
information that can get them something on someone else's tab.
Credit card and banking statements, applications for credit cards,
phone bills and utility bills all need to be shredded to prevent
anyone from getting your information. Checkbooks need to be treated
the same to get rid of your account numbers on them.
4. Share sensitive information with care

Giving information out over the phone is sometimes required for
security purposes, and some companies that call you might ask you to
verify personal information to make sure that they are speaking to
the right person. If you are unsure of the caller's identity,
erring on the side of caution is advised. This can prevent
inadvertent sharing of sensitive information with someone that has
misrepresented their intentions or identity. Ask for a call back
number and check it out if you have any doubts at all.

5. Avoid easily decipherable passwords

When choosing a password for your sensitive accounts try to avoid
any word and or number combinations that can be easily discovered.
Some examples include your mother's maiden name, your house
number
or birth date. If possible, place security questions, to which only
you know the answers on your account.

These steps provide a good first line of defense against identity
theft but, unfortunately, they do not provide a guarantee. If you
follow steps and still become a victim of identity theft, take
action fast.

Important actions if you are the victim of identity theft

The first step is to report it to the authorities. Most companies
have to have a police report or case number before they can work
with you to undo the damage. With the report or number in hand, you
will need to call all of your credit card issuers and advise them of
what has happened so they can flag your account with a fraud
investigation flag. Utilities and phone companies must be notified
as well.

Be mindful that there are three credit reporting agencies that
collect and compile information about your credit history and
habits. You will need to inform at least one of them so that a fraud
alert can be placed on your file. Once the alert is placed the first
agency will inform the other two bureaus to place alerts as well.
You can choose an initial if you merely suspect identity theft and
adopt a wait and watch approach or an extended alert if you are
certain that you have been a victim of this crime.

You will also need to get a copy of your credit report and review
its accuracy. Give particular attention to recent activity that does
not seem familiar. Write and or call all of the companies that
report information related to your identity theft. Most credit card
companies will only hold their customers responsible for up to $50
dollars in cases of theft, and most banks will replace stolen money
pending verification.

Identity theft can make securing loans for home ownership or
education impossible. It may even prevent employment with agencies
that require a particular credit score. If you have been the victim
of identity theft it can take weeks or years and often quite a bit
of time and money to undo the damage. It makes sense that victims
often feel angry, overwhelmed and discouraged. If you are the victim
of identity theft it's very important to be proactive. When you
act
quickly you will minimize the damage and loss by limiting
unauthorized access to your sensitive account information.

Be sure to keep records of all activities and contacts related to
your identity theft. You may also want to make periodic checks of
your credit report and sign up for an account monitoring service,
which immediately alerts you when inquiries to your credit report
occur. Stay alert and keep aware.




[quote=jeferrer]Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
By Nicole Soltau

One of the prime axioms in life is just when you think it
couldn't
happen to you, it does. This is a sad fact, and even more so when
you consider the crime of identity theft. You take years to
establish your financial and individual identity and reputation, and
in one moment the illegal act of another washes it all away wreaking
havoc on your financial life. The reasons for identity theft are as
varied as the circumstances of the unsuspecting victims. There are
ways to protect yourself. Being diligent and using common sense can
go a long way in preventing this troublesome event from happening in
your life. Following are some steps to consider.

1. Protecting your information

Keep your social security card separate from your other
identification, leaving it at home if at all possible. Have a sheet
with all of your credit card numbers and companies listed and in a
safe place, so in the event of theft you can call quickly to cancel
the accounts.

2. Limit preprinted check information

Checks are another potential bonanza for an identity thief. Even
though it may make checking out a little harder, only put your basic
information (name, address, maybe a phone number) on your checks.
This will prevent an ID thief from getting your drivers license or
social security number off a check left lying around.

3. Properly dispose of sensitive information after it no longer
is needed.

The identity thief is not above digging in a dumpster for
information that can get them something on someone else's tab.
Credit card and banking statements, applications for credit cards,
phone bills and utility bills all need to be shredded to prevent
anyone from getting your information. Checkbooks need to be treated
the same to get rid of your account numbers on them.
4. Share sensitive information with care

Giving information out over the phone is sometimes required for
security purposes, and some companies that call you might ask you to
verify personal information to make sure that they are speaking to
the right person. If you are unsure of the caller's identity,
erring on the side of caution is advised. This can prevent
inadvertent sharing of sensitive information with someone that has
misrepresented their intentions or identity. Ask for a call back
number and check it out if you have any doubts at all.

5. Avoid easily decipherable passwords

When choosing a password for your sensitive accounts try to avoid
any word and or number combinations that can be easily discovered.
Some examples include your mother's maiden name, your house
number
or birth date. If possible, place security questions, to which only
you know the answers on your account.

These steps provide a good first line of defense against identity
theft but, unfortunately, they do not provide a guarantee. If you
follow steps and still become a victim of identity theft, take
action fast.

Important actions if you are the victim of identity theft

The first step is to report it to the authorities. Most companies
have to have a police report or case number before they can work
with you to undo the damage. With the report or number in hand, you
will need to call all of your credit card issuers and advise them of
what has happened so they can flag your account with a fraud
investigation flag. Utilities and phone companies must be notified
as well.

Be mindful that there are three credit reporting agencies that
collect and compile information about your credit history and
habits. You will need to inform at least one of them so that a fraud
alert can be placed on your file. Once the alert is placed the first
agency will inform the other two bureaus to place alerts as well.
You can choose an initial if you merely suspect identity theft and
adopt a wait and watch approach or an extended alert if you are
certain that you have been a victim of this crime.

You will also need to get a copy of your credit report and review
its accuracy. Give particular attention to recent activity that does
not seem familiar. Write and or call all of the companies that
report information related to your identity theft. Most credit card
companies will only hold their customers responsible for up to $50
dollars in cases of theft, and most banks will replace stolen money
pending verification.

Identity theft can make securing loans for home ownership or
education impossible. It may even prevent employment with agencies
that require a particular credit score. If you have been the victim
of identity theft it can take weeks or years and often quite a bit
of time and money to undo the damage. It makes sense that victims
often feel angry, overwhelmed and discouraged. If you are the victim
of identity theft it's very important to be proactive. When you
act
quickly you will minimize the damage and loss by limiting
unauthorized access to your sensitive account information.

Be sure to keep records of all activities and contacts related to
your identity theft. You may also want to make periodic checks of
your credit report and sign up for an account monitoring service,
which immediately alerts you when inquiries to your credit report
occur. Stay alert and keep aware.
[/quote]


Thank you for posting this helpful information. you are right, This crime happens when people least expect it. We all think that it cant happen to me. But it can. We are all at risk.

Sometimes we can be careless with our own information and we make ourselves more vulnerable. other times, the institutions that we trust with security fail to uphold their promise to protect our information.

just look at Citibank. They have these elaborate promotions concerning identity theft and how their programs will protect us from identity theft. but yet, a security breach occurred do to a failure in their own system. So this is really upsetting.

I have been a victim and I have actually taken some of the steps that you posted. for example, I have placed a fraud alert on my credit records. So that will last for 90 days. And within the next 12 months, i can request a free credit report. So I am taking steps to prevent this incident from ruining my life.

Sub: #1 posted on Thu, 06/23/2005 - 09:30

benjaminz6 benjaminz6
Moderators
(Posts: 256 | Credits: )

How do we protect ourselves from identity theft from the collection agencies? They have full rights to our files!

Sub: #2 posted on Sat, 07/08/2006 - 15:32

Unregistered


You can't stop a collection agency from getting the necessary information about you. They are required to practice their collections in the legitimate way. If you find them involved in fraudulent activities, take legal actions and report them at the local AG"s office. They must act within the legal norms while doing business. You must monitor your credit report regularly to avoid such happenings.

Sub: #3 posted on Mon, 07/10/2006 - 18:06

BuildingWealth BuildingWealth

(Posts: 491 | Credits: )

I was sitting here tonight and thought I would put together information about advance fee loan scams and the Nigerian Scam. Feel free to add information to make people aware of the scams.

ADVANCE FEE LOAN SCAMS

Advance fee loan scams are becoming one of the most common crimes of today. They have attractive websites that claim that anyone can get a loan for any amount. On the websites, they claim they can get anyone a loan, no matter how bad a person's credit is. It can consist of only paying an insurance fee by Money Gram to Canada. Also, the number the company gives 800 numbers and if they contact you, the call is always blocked. The company will fax all documents, requiring your full name, address, phone number, social security number and banking information. Once you have filled out all the paperwork, signed and faxed it back with a copy of the voided check, they promise to deposit the money in your account within 24 hours. Then you have 5 months before a payment. They claim to run a credit check, but when you pull a copy of your report, the company name is not listed under the hard pull section. Now you have given all your personal information to a loan company thinking you are going to receive a loan, they take the insurance payment you have sent Money Gram and disappear. Then, you are out the money you sent, your personal information is at risk and they have full access to anything in your name.

Legitimate loans will offer credit do not require an up-front payment. Although legitimate lenders may charge application, appraisal, or credit report fees, the fees generally are taken from the amount borrowed. And the fees usually are paid to the lender or broker after the loan is approved. Legitimate lenders may guarantee firm offers of credit to ???credit-worthy??? consumers, but first, they evaluate the consumer's creditworthiness and confirm the information in the application.

If you feel a deal is too good to be true, then more than likely they are. If you suspect that a company isn't on the up and up, you can contact the Banking and Financial Institutions in the state in which the company claims to be operating out of. The Better Business Bureau is another place to check on a business. Also, you can contact the Attorney General in the state they are claiming to be located.

If you have ever been scammed by a fraudulent company, file a police report with your local sheriffs department, Attorney General in your state, the IC3 FBI cyber crimes division, and the Consumer Protection office. In the complaints that you file, you need to include copies of the paperwork from the company, Money Gram receipts and any other proof you have.
Another famous scam is called a Nigerian Scam. Most pyramid schemes are attempts to confuse potential consumers into complicated but convincingly fool-proof money making scams. The essential idea behind each scam is that the individual only makes one payment, but somehow they are promised to receive exponential benefits from other people as a reward. People think they are going to make money by sending chain letters to several people with the promise of them making money. Recently a person murdered her husband because she found out that she was scammed out of over $17,000.00 and in severe financial debt. Her husband found out about the scam and in fear of her husband, she killed him to avoid the problems resulting from the scam. The Nigerian Scheme is becoming more and more popular and people are losing their homes, vehicles, unable to put food on the table. These kinds of scams need to be stopped, but a lot of people will not come forward because they are embarrassed, or afraid of the consequences. If more people would come forward and alert the authorities about being scammed, the better chance of these people being stopped.

These are the two most common features that lead to Identity Theft. Identity theft is a serious matter that jeopardizes every unsuspecting person. 18 U.S.C. 1028 "The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998" which made identity theft a federal crime. At one point or another, victims of identity theft may feel overwhelmed by the psychological pain of loss, helplessness, anger, isolation, betrayal, rage and even embarrassment. This crime triggers deep fears regarding financial security, the safety of family members, and the ability to ever trust again.

So next time you see an offer that is true good to be true, put the letter through the shredder or if you receive a phone call saying Congratulations, you have qualified for a loan and all you have to do is send a certain amount of money to Canada by Money Gram/Western Union, contact the proper authorities immediately.

Sub: #4 posted on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 18:22

Not so Lucky Not so Lucky

(Posts: 3041 | Credits: )


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