How to Prevent Identity Theft

There’s only one you, right? WRONG! There’s a lot of bad apples out there, and If you’re not careful, they’ll steal your identity in an artichoke heartbeat. So remember to watch your tail!

Instructions

  • Step 1: Watch your wallet Keep a close eye on your wallet, purse, and any other personal belongings AT ALL TIMES!
  • Step 2: Be careful with mail Be just as careful with your incoming and outgoing mail. Bank and credit card statements, school or license applications, utility bills, tax documents—anything with your personal digits on it is a goldmine to these sneaks.
  • Step 3: Beware of phishing Beware of 'phishing': that’s when some no-goodnik sends you a letter or email that looks legit, but it’s really an attempt to get your financial information. They even try it with text messages now. Never give out personal information unless you initiated the contact.
  • Step 4: Beware of skimming Watch out for 'skimming' too; that’s when a store clerk swipes your card through their own personal swiping machine. You’ve got to watch those store clerks like a hawk.
  • Step 5: Get free credit report Every year, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three big national credit bureaus. So request one every four months—that way you can keep close tabs on any suspicious activities.
  • TIP: Calling any one of the bureaus activates an alert with all three, but the alert only lasts for 90 days, so remember to renew it. And whenever you do, you’re entitled to another free credit report. Bingo!
  • Step 6: Never leave documents lying around At home, never leave revealing documents lying around the house, where workers or deliverymen could easily help themselves.
  • Step 7: Destroy bills & documents And, finally, always destroy any bills or documents that contain personal information before throwing them away. Use a paper shredder if you’ve got one. It’s that simple—just take the proper precautions and you’ll always be the only you there is.
  • FACT: In the United States, nearly 9 million adults were the victims of identity fraud in 2006.

You Will Need

  • Vigilance
  • Paper shredder

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