Thieves can be quite sneaky
when it comes to finding ways to steal your identity. Below are quick tips
to protect yourself and your money.
Don't give out personal information to someone
you don't know. Thieves can pretend to be bank representatives,
Internet service providers, and government agents to get you to reveal
personal information. If you're unsure who's contacting you, don't give
out personal information to them without verifying their request first,
especially when it's being requested over the phone or online.
Monitor your statements and check your credit
report. By checking your bank and credit card statements every
month and your credit report at
least once a year, you'll be able to spot strange activity sooner rather than
later. You are entitled to one free credit report annually. Get
your free credit report from
one of the three credit reporting agencies today.
Shred important documents. Identity
thieves look through people's trash to try to get personal information.
This is commonly referred to as "dumpster diving." So shred documents
that contain your personal information before throwing them away.
Protect your credit and debit
cards. Your credit and debit cards provide direct access to your
cash and identity, so keep them in a secure place and follow these tips:
Whenever you receive a new card, write on the back of
it "ASK FOR ID." This way, whenever your credit card is used to buy
something, the cashier will need to confirm the identity of the person using
Destroy old credit cards by shredding or cutting them
Don't lend credit cards to anyone.
After using your credit card, make sure it's returned
to you safely. For example, if you give your credit card to a waiter
in a restaurant, check that the credit card returned is your credit
card. People can switch your credit card if you are not paying
Consumers should be careful with credit card insurance
programs that claim to protect against charges incurred due to identity
theft. Frequently, these policies provide no more protection than is
afforded to each consumer under the law for free. If your card is lost
or stolen and used without your permission, you are not held responsible for
unauthorized charges above $50 as long as you report the card missing.
Further, funds being paid to the credit card company for insurance are not
being applied to balances; hence if there was an unauthorized charge of $35,
you may have to pay the $35 in addition to your current insurance
Protect the information you enter in a
computer. To prevent your information from being stolen, ensure
that your computer has appropriate anti-virus software that will detect and
prevent viruses. When letting other people use your computer, make sure
any personal files are locked with a password and that you are logged off of
any online accounts. In addition, if you are using a public computer (at
a copy center or cyber café), don't enter personal information.