Wednesday, July 11, 2012

8 tips for preventing identity theft

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, lead by the state of Florida with highest amount of consumer complaints, according to the National Crime Stop Program. Yet it is the least noticeable one in spite of the over nine million Americans affected by it each year. 
By the time you notice that you have fallen victim to an identity thief, the perpetrator is long gone and has most likely covered his tracks well enough to be home-free for all eternity. 
You, on the other hand, have to deal with the aftermath for the rest of your life due to a wrecked credit and financial losses.

Here are 5 tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  1. Avoid paying with your credit or debit card at the pump because unnoticeable skimming devices can steal your information, which can then be used for fraudulent purposes.
  2. Check your credit report often, preferably from all three major credit bureaus. Go to to get your free copy.
  3. Use the cash back option in stores during check out instead of going to an ATM that might be compromised by a skimming device.
  4. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call to a trustworthy source.
  5. Never let your credit/debit card leave your sight. There are plenty of hand-held card readers available now that allow anyone to swipe your card and steal your information in the blink of an eye.
  6. Check your bank and financial accounts frequently to detect and report any suspicious activity early.
  7. Guard your social security and driver's license number like the apple of your eye.
  8. Only share your personal information on secure sites starting with 'https.'
The bottom line is, better safe than sorry. 

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