Identity Theft Can Be Much More Than Just A Hassle!

Identity Theft Can Be Much More Than Just A Hassle!

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Last month I read a story in the local newspaper where a nearby police department was warning residents of a scam targeting mailboxes. Apparently, thieves were driving through the town, opening up mailboxes to steal credit card applications and other consumer material, and using this information to steal their identity.

manNo one has been caught as of this writing, but scores of citizens have found their personal information compromised. From what I read, it is taking months for some people to get a handle on exactly what has happened to them and even much longer to correct the problem. One woman claimed that these problems kept her from getting a job as her trashed credit history made it look like she was irresponsible, hence no job offer.

AAA recently sent to me some timely information about identity theft, tips which can help you avoid being victimized by a crime that claims eight million Americans annually.

Ten Tips To Keep Your Credit Card Safe

  • Safeguard your credit by treating your cards like cash.  Keep them securely in your wallet or at home when not needed.
  • Review your monthly statements in a timely manner to ensure all charges are accurate and check your account online frequently. This will also help victims of Skimming detect fraud immediately. Skimming often occurs in restaurants and bars where credit cards are out of sight of the cardholder. Secret copies of the magnetic strip are made in order to make a counterfeit card.
  • Report billing errors and lost or stolen cards immediately to resolve problems in a timely manner and reduce possible fraudulent activity.
  • Be skeptical of all email that direct to a website in which credit card or personal information is entered. One of the largest forms of fraud is “Phishing,” in which victims receive an email that directs to a phony website that is an exact copy of a real website and requests users input personal and financial data supposedly verify accounts.
  • Carry credit cards as needed, reducing the amount of cards you carry will decrease exposure to loss or theft.
  • Keep credit card numbers secure – do not give out your information over the phone unless you are familiar with the merchant or you have initiated the call.
  • Track your usage by keeping receipts for your ATM, credit and debit cards.
  • Keep a list of your credit card account numbers, issuer contact information and the three credit reporting agencies in a safe place to allow for quick reporting if they are lost or stolen.
  • Shred pre-approved offers, card receipts, and anything that displays your credit card information before putting them in the trash.
  • It is wiser to use a credit card, rather than a debit card when making purchases over the Internet. When you use a debit card, it is your money at stake and not the bank’s.

Finally, if you believe that someone is tampering with your mailbox, call you local police as well as your postmaster or nearest postal inspector. The United States Postal Service takes seriously crimes related to tampering with the mail and will prosecute convicted felons to the full extent of the law.

Resources

Emergency Income in the Event That You Lose Your Job

Florida Students Find SS Numbers Compromised

Postmaster General Sends Advice to Prevent ID Theft

Source: AAA

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Categories: Consumer Tips