33 Ways to protect your Identity and Credit

At Home

1.  Do not put checks in the mail from your home mailbox. Drop them off at a U.S. Mailbox or the U.S. Post Office. Mail theft is common. It’s easy to change the name of the recipient on the check with an acid wash.

2. Get all of your checks delivered to your bank – not to your home address.

3.  Reduce the amount of mail you receive by calling the national credit bureaus’ opt-out line at 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-5-678-688) or at their web site http://www.optoutprescreen.com . This action will reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you will receive.

4. Treat your trash and mail carefully – Buy a cross-cut type shredder
To thwart identity thieves, who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your…

* charge receipts
* copies of credit applications,
* insurance forms,
* physician statements,
* checks and bank statements,
* credit card statements,
* expired charge cards that you’re discarding,
* pre-approved credit card offers you get in the mail, and
* any documents that contain your social security number

5. Protect your Social Security number. Practice good home security —Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having service work done in your home. Securely store extra checks, credit cards, documents that list your Social Security number, and similar valuable items.

6. According to the FTC, over fifty percent of identity-theft victims first detected the fraud by monitoring their own accounts. The sooner you detect the fraud, the better your chances of recovering your money and good name/credit.

7. Be careful of “lucky winner” scams. You just received a letter in the mail  that states that you have been chosen as a lucky winner. All you have to do is give out your personal information like your name, address, credit card number, bank account number so that you can grab your FREE gifts that are worth of thousands of dollars. Doesn’t it sound to good to be true? It is. This is one of the many ways that the identity crooks use to obtain your sensitive personal information.
At Work

8. Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.

9. Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor’s offices or other institutions that collect personally identifying information from you. Find out who can access to your personal information and verify that it is handled and stored securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask if you can keep your information confidential.
When Traveling

10. Alert your credit card company. Before you go away, tell your credit card company or your bank where you plan to travel. This allows most companies to set up their fraud alert system, which notifies travelers if they are suspected victims of fraud.

11. Minimize the amount of personal financial information you carry. Memorize passwords and PIN numbers. Do not carry them.

12. Newspapers – Nothing says “we’re out of town” more than a pile of newspapers. Don’t forget to stop delivery until you return. Also stop any other automatic deliveries, such as bottled water.

13. Go through your wallet, purse and/or briefcase and remove any of the following items prior to travel:

* Social Security card
* Check book & deposit slip
* Credit card receipts
* Library card
* Video rental card
* Bills
* Extra Credit Cards

Leave your debit card at home. Make credit cards, not ATM cards, your card of choice. Minimize number of credit cards in wallet. No more than two (2). Place all the removed items above into a locked safe and pay bills before you go out of town.

14. Place mail on “postal hold” with the Post Office. Arrange so mail may only be picked up by you and request that identification must be shown to receive held mail.

15. Make copies of your itinerary, passport data page, visas and driver’s license to leave with designated emergency contact.

16. Notify a neighbor to watch your house. Let them know you are not moving.

17. Lock up all your valuables in room safes or hotel safe while you are out of the room. (This includes jewelry, laptops, passports and any other important documents)

18. Heighten your awareness of people and crowds around you – pickpockets thrive in most major cities.

19. Be aware of your surroundings at all times – shoulder surfing is a viable method of obtaining personal information when you least suspect it.

20. Don’t take anything in your wallet that is not absolutely necessary.

21. Do not place purse, belongings or purchases on the floor in a public restroom. Also, do not hang these items on the hook on the door. It is also recommended that you not leave your purse on the floor or on an empty chair.
Online

22. Create hard-to-guess passwords.

23. Online recruiting business giants like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and HotJobs.com caution users about false online job listings that are sometimes posted by identity thieves to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers.

24. Download, install and update firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware security software regularly

25. Before disposing of an old computer, use a utility program to “wipe” your hard drive.

26. Avoid storing sensitive information like credit card numbers or your Social Security number on your computer

27. Keep your Web browser updated to ensure you have the latest security features installed

28. Dedicate one credit card solely for online purchases

29. Limit personal information you post on the Web and restrict who can access it.

30. Don’t send personal information in e-mail or instant messages
Tax Time

31. Mail Theft Prevention

When mailing your tax documents, always take them directly to the Post Office. Drop them in a box inside the Post Office. If you use an outside Post Office pickup box, it’s best to drop your mail before the last pick-up of the day. Leaving mail overnight gives a thief a better opportunity to steal mail. Don’t leave tax documents in an outgoing mail box at work. Unguarded mail is a theft waiting to happen.

32. Tax Preparers and Personal Privacy

Be selective about who works on your taxes. Investigate tax preparation companies with the Better Business Bureau, especially new or seasonal offices. Ask how your information will be stored, what computer security software is used, and if the person working on your taxes has undergone a thorough background screening. Trust your impressions. Do you see personal papers displayed on desks? If you feel uncomfortable or doubt the firm’s commitment to protecting your privacy, take your business elsewhere.

33. Tax Time Scams
If you receive an email asking for your Social Security Number or financial information, delete it or send it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov for investigation. The IRS does not send emails stating you are being electronically audited. They also don’t contact you by email about refunds which require you to provide bank information.
Related Articles

* What is an Identity Theft Report?
* Differences between a Credit Freeze and a Fraud Alert
* What is a credit freeze?
* 5 Steps to Follow after Identity Theft
* Fraud Alert and How it Can Protect You

Eddie Johnson Identity Theft Identity Theft
Related Articles

* What is an Identity Theft Report?
* Differences between a Credit Freeze and a Fraud Alert
* What is a credit freeze?
* 5 Steps to Follow after Identity Theft
* Fraud Alert and How it Can Protect You

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