Sure-Fire Tips for Fraud Protection
Sure-Fire Tips for Fraud Protection

Have you heard about identity theft, but think it won't happen to you? With the amount of personal information you're putting on the curb and online every day, you're a sitting duck. Think about it: if I went digging through your trash, all your old email accounts, blog postings, and social networking profiles, I would have a wealth of information about you that I could use like a key to open up your world.

Identity theft is not only a current concern, with the economy in dire straits and unemployment rising, but it has the added distinction of being one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., say FBI officials. To avoid becoming yet another victim of this silent but devastating crime, implement the following fraud protection guidelines today.

Identity Theft Prevention Do's:
  • Educate yourself about identity theft.
  • Order a copy of your credit report every year and review it for any questionable activity (if you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire a credit fraud protection company like Intersections or Lifelock to do it for you).
  • Shred or burn all documents containing personal and financial information.
  • Close any dormant bank or credit accounts.
  • Request that your name be removed from solicitation mailing lists.
  • Cover the keypad when using an ATM or public debit card reader, like those at the supermarket or gas station.
  • Contact your creditors promptly if you notice any unusual activity, including a missing statement.
  • Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, or firewall software on your computer and ensure that your Internet browser and/or mail client are up to date.

Identity Theft Protection Don'ts:

  • Provide any personal information over the phone, by mail, or through the internet unless you contacted them.
  • Keep important information on your person, such as a Social Security Card, PIN numbers, or passwords.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.

If You're a Victim of Identity Theft:

Consider Your Password

We need passwords for so many different things these days that it's tempting to pick something that you'll easily remember. However, it also means it will be easier for others to figure out. It is never a good idea to use parts of your social security number, date of birth or phone number, or any other personal information when creating a password.

Also pay attention to security questions that can be easily looked up, such as the high school you attended. In this case, the more personal you can get the better since far less people would know or have access to the answer. Try using something not on record as your security question, like the name of your first pet or your childhood best friend. If possible, try to mix up alphabetical and numerical symbols as well.

Credit Fraud Protection and You

The thing about identity theft is that it can happen to anyone, but it's more likely to happen to those who don't take precautionary measures and don't educate themselves on the dangers. Don't let yourself become a victim like the 8.4 million that were affected by fraud last year. With all the credit fraud protection resources available, you don't have to be included in that statistic.