- Don’t give out personal information unless you know the person or it is absolutely necessary and never give it out unless YOU generated the contact.
- Protect your snail mail. Shred or safely store all personal information. Put outgoing mail in public mail boxes and place your home mail on hold with the Post Office when you go out of town.
- Secure your credit cards. Minimize the information and number of cards you carry in your wallet (you’ll spend less anyway!). If you lose a card, contact the card company as soon as possible. Also, watch cashiers and waiters when they handle your cards.
- Watch your billing cycles. Contact creditors immediately if your bills do not arrive. Get in the habit of watching your credit calendar. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address.
- Protect personal information in your home. Make sure your personal documents are well-hidden or safely locked away when a worker enters your home. If you’re unable to be there, ask a friend or roommate to come over to keep watch.
- Use common sense with passwords and PINs. Memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers, don’t carry them with you. And don’t use easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, your birthdate, your anniversary, your pet’s name, or your street address.
Identity theft is real. It is growing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. That number is growing, too.
You can survive identity theft. I did. The process is long and arduous but it is survivable! Now I have someone looking out for my identity and I am really, REALLY glad.
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