11 Steps To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Nothing will totally prevent you from being an identity theft fraud victim. Criminals can easily commit identity theft because of the careless information-handling processes in the workplace, lenient credit industry practices, and the effortlessness of getting Social Security numbers. However, you can lessen your risk of fraud by following some simple steps.

1. Do not make it a habit to carry all your credit and debit cards in your wallet all the time.

2. Debit cards are more prone to losses to your checking account. If you use debit cards, make the most of online access to your bank account to check your account activity regularly.

3. Report any sign of fraud to your financial institution immediately. The sooner you notice any fraud, and report it, the quicker it will be to clean up your credit status and regain your financial capabilities.

4. When using debit/credit cards in public establishments, be aware of how they are being handled. Pay close attention to how the cards are swiped by the clerk or waiter. Some employees may use a non-detectable skimmer to swipe the card and get the account number data from a personal computer later.

5. Do not use your debit card when you shop on the Internet. Instead, use a credit card. You are better protected by credit card companies.

6. Maintain a list of all your cards and keep a separate list for account numbers, dates of expiration and phone numbers of customer service and fraud establishments.

7. Do not give out any personal information over the phone, Internet or mail. Only give this information if you have enough trust in the person who will be receiving it.

8. Do not put your receipts in your shopping bag. Place them in your wallet or purse. Dispose of your receipts by tearing or shredding them before you throw them away.

9. Do not have your credit card number written on your checks.

10. If you are anticipating the arrival of a new credit card in the mail, be aware of how long it takes to arrive. If it does not arrive in the anticipated time, contact the card company of the issuer.

11. Request a credit report at least once a year. The law gives you the right to one free credit report each year from the three credit bureaus. It will show any signs of fraudulent activity. Look for new accounts that you did not open or request and any unusual activity.

With some basic identity theft fraud precautions and some common sense you can prevent, or at least slow down your chances of becoming a victim of this ever-increasing crime.

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