Monday, September 28, 2009

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

Here's a final takeaway from what I learned at my Credit Scores class.  Look for a consumer class coming soon!

Avoid Identity Theft!
  • Monitor your credit report annually  Whether you sign up to monitor your credit with the company that has those catchy ads, or do it yourself, make sure you do it!  Remember that they have to pay for those ads and do so by charging a credit monitoring fee after your first report.  To monitor your own credit completely FREE, go to
  • Secure Your Mail  It might be a good idea to have it delivered to your office or post office.  Outgoing mail should be posted at the post office or a secured mail box.
  • Electronic keypad signatures  One of the most common points of theft.  Add the date after the signature so it cannot be reused.
  • Never list your social security number  And never carry your card with you!
  • Destroy all statements and solicitations  It's not enough to just tear them in half and throw them away.  Shred!
  • Don't leave paper trails  Take ALL ATM and gas receipts with you.  These are other very common points of origination for identity theft.
  • Always review your statements  Make sure all of the charges are yours.  If you don't recognize a store or vendor, call your credit card company and ask. 
  • Know who you are dealing with  Don't give out personal information over the phone or internet.  If someone calls claiming to be your bank or credit card company, call them back using the number on your statement, not the number the caller gives you.
  • Know your delivery dates  If the bill isn't there when expected, call.
  • Remove bar code from magazines and shred them!  There is a world of information about you contained in those little lines.
  • Keep your medical insurance card safe  Medical ID theft is the newest form of identity theft.
  • If you pay your bills by check  Put your work phone and address on your checks.
  • Have different passwords online  and change them every so often.
Hopefully this has been helpful information.  I know I learned a lot and wanted to share it.  There is nothing that feels quite so helpless as when someone is using your information- protect yourselves!

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