How to prevent Identity Theft?


Take the following steps to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:
In case of Credit cards, Debit cards, and Credit reports:
1. Reduce the number of credit and debit cards carried in your wallet. While using debit cards take advantage of online access to your bank account to monitor account activity frequently and report evidence of fraud to your financial institution immediately.
2. When using your credit and debit cards at restaurants and stores, pay attention to how the magnetic stripe information is swiped by the waiter or clerk because devices called skimmers can download the account number data onto a personal computer.
3. Do not use debit cards when shopping online, instead use a credit card because you are better protected in case of fraud.
4. Keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, and investments - the account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments - in a secure place.
5. Never give out your Social Security Number, credit or debit card number or other personal information over the phone, by mail, or on the Internet unless you have a trusted business relationship with the company or if you have initiated the call.
6. Always take credit card receipts with you and never toss them in a public trash container.
7. Do not permit your credit card number to be written onto your checks.
8. Order your credit report at least once a year because if you are a victim of identity theft, your credit report will contain the tell-tale signs.
In case of Passwords and PINs:
1. When creating passwords and PINs, do not use anything that could easily be discovered by thieves.
2. Ask your financial institutions to add extra security protection to your account like an additional code or password when accessing your account.
3. Memorize all your passwords and don't record them on anything in your wallet.
In case of Social Security Numbers:
1. Protect your Social Security Number and release it only when absolutely necessary for e.g. tax forms, employment records, most banking, stock and property transactions.
2. Do not have your SSN or driver's license number printed on your checks.
3. Examine your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement each year to check against fraud.
4. Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet except for situations when it is required.
In case of Internet and other Computer safeguards:
1. Install a firewall on your computer to prevent hackers from obtaining personal information and financial data from your hard drive
2. Install and update virus protection software to prevent a virus from causing your computer to send out files or other stored information.
3. Password-protect files that contain sensitive personal data, such as financial account information, etc.
Reduce access to your personal data by the following:
1. Do not carry extra credit cards, debit cards, Social Security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or purse, except when needed.
2. Do not carry other cards in your wallet that contain the Social Security Number (SSN), except when you need them.
3. Install a locked mailbox at your residence to avoid mail theft. You can also use a post office box or a commercial mailbox service.
4. When ordering new checks, personally pick them up at the bank.


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