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What is Identity Theft? How to Protect Yourself

Identity theft is when someone obtains, and illegally uses, your identification information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number or mother’s maiden name.

How does this crime happen? There are many ways for an identity thief to get your personal information, some of them are;

Social Security Card

Social Security Card

  • You lose your wallet or purse, they have access to whatever information you carry with you, credit cards, social security number,  driver’s  license, etc.

  • Someone where you use a credit card can copy your card information.

  • Someone going through your trash can obtain personal information from personal papers you may have discarded.

  • Hackers could get information on you from the Internet.

  • Almost every day  we hear reports of someone losing a computer or disk that has personal information on it.

  • You could be mugged, or your home or office can be broken into.

And there are countless other ways for thieves to obtain your personal information.

An imposter can open new credit card accounts, drain your bank accounts, purchase automobiles, apply for loans, open utility services and on and on.

What steps can you take to protect yourself?

  • Limit the amount of personal information you carry with you.

  • Be careful of what information you give out about yourself, and who you are giving it to.

  • Your social security number is quite possibly the most valuable information to an identity thief, you should take great care to safeguard it.

  • Be very careful filling out forms on the internet, be sure you are on a legitimate site and that whatever information they are asking for is really necessary.

chip credit cards help prevent identity theft

chip credit cards

Many retailers are making use of data terminals that allow you to slide your credit card without handing it to a clerk. Banks and credit card companies are reissuing cards that have a security chip embeded in the card , retailers are installing new terminals that use these “chip” cards. Use them whenever you can.

Buy and use a paper shredder for your trash, be sure you shred anything that contain any personal information, papers, cards, computer disks, cd’s etc.

Get and review your credit reports quarterly, and your bank or credit card accounts monthly.

If you make online purchases.You should have one credit card that you use for all online purchases, and use it for nothing else. This will allow you to spot something questionable more easily.

No matter how cautious you are, you cannot guarantee that a criminal will not obtain your information. The links below will take you to sites with tips to avoid identity theft and the steps to take to stop the damage and to recover from this crime, if it does happen.

If you suspect that someone has obtained your identity info, your first step should be to contact and enroll with an identity monitoring company. I reccomend LifeLock.


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