Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
By Nicole Soltau
One of the prime axioms in life is just when you think it
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
By signing up a debt counseling session, your provided details (Name, Email ID and Phone No.) will be forwarded to the company advertising on the DebtCC. However, you have no obligation to use their services.
Some creditors and collection agencies refuse to lower the payoff amount, interest rate, and fees owed by the consumer.
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