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Identity Theft: How to Avoid It

With more geniuses and computer savvy hackers lurking about on the Internet, more and more people have become victims of identity theft. Of course, as time passes these sly thinkers keep formulating even more ways to improve their mode of operation.

To reduce the risk of being a victim, here are some precautionary steps that you should take so that your identity won’t be stolen.

Credit Card Diet

First off, you should learn to reduce the number of debit and credit cards that you carry on your wallet. It is recommended that you don’t use debit cards, due to the high potential losses you could get on your checking account. Instead, you should just carry 1 or 2 credit cards in your wallet, along with your ATM card. Nevertheless, the popularity of debit cards is unquestionable and if you really want to use them take full advantage of your accounts online access feature to monitor the activity of your account. It’s important that you do this monitoring frequently. If you see any irregularity with your account, then you should report it to your financial institution/bank immediately.

Keep An Open Eye

Additionally, you should pay very close attention whenever you use your debit or credit card in malls or restaurants. You should closely watch how your cards is swiped by the clerk or waiter. Sad to say, there are dishonest employees whom have been caught using small hand-held devices called skimmers that can quickly swipe your card then later on download your account number and other data to a personal computer. If ever this happens to you, the thief could use your account to shop on the internet, and create counterfeit cards.

Debit Card No-no!

If you’ll be shopping on the Internet, it would be better if you use a credit card instead of a debit card. This is because credit cards have better protection for forgery.

Good Safekeeping

You should learn to organize your documents well. Keeping a list or photocopy of your documents, debit cards, credit cards, investments, bank accounts, account numbers, receipts, expiration dates, customer service number and fraud department number is advisable. You should remember to place them in a very secure place. Refrain from placing them in your purse or wallet so that you can contact them immediately in case your cards are lost or stolen.

Contacting the essential institutions as soon as possible if your cards is lost is very essential because in that way you can report the loss of your card and ask your company to block its use. In that way the thief or whomever finds your cards wouldn’t be able to use it. Additionally, if they are already using it, then you can stop them immediately before they cause further damage to your account.

Keep Your Data Exclusive

Another step is keeping your data exclusive. This means you should never give it out to people or companies you do not know. Important information would include your SSN, debit or credit card number and other personal info. These kinds of data should never be given over the phone, through snail mail, or by the Internet unless you already have a business relationship that you can trust with the company. You should be the one who initiated the call. This is because identity thieves are known to call their victims using a fake number and story in which they say something like: “Today is your lucky day! You have just won a Sweepstakes lottery where you receive an all expense Bahamas Vacation! Please give us your SSN, credit card number along with the expiration date so that we could verify your account.”

Get Your Receipts

Another important step is to take your receipts for credit or debit cards with you. Although it is tempting to simply toss them in the trash bin next to the machine, you should never do this. Additionally, if you’ll be shopping, you should place your receipts inside your wallet instead of your shopping bag.

Where to Go to Put on a Credit Freeze

  1. Experian
  2. Equifax
  3. TransUnion