If your identity is stolen it can wreak havoc on your credit report, your credit score and your financial life. Take a few precautions to avoid identity theft.
Make sure that you practice safe banking, safe computing, and safe business practices.
1) Keep all of your account numbers and PIN numbers safe. Cover your account and PIN numbers when using debit at the store or especially at an ATM and refuse to give your PIN number to anyone. Avoid writing down your PIN and account numbers ? you never know when this information could fall into the wrong hands.
2) Check out businesses first and only do business with businesses you trust. If a business seems shady, then just skip it entirely. Trust your instinct.
3) If you get applications for credit cards in the mail that are ?pre-approved? shred the applications and enclosed letters before discarding them. Identity thieves have been known to go through the garbage in order to find these forms and information so that they easily steal your identity.
4) If you use a computer, install good firewall and antivirus protection system and update it often. Consider taking a course in safe computing either online or at your local college or community center. Learn about the many good tips for keeping all your information safe while you are online.
6) Even with all computer precautions, avoid sending private information through email or your computer. Your bank will never ask you for personal information via email so be especially cautious if you get an email from your bank asking you to verify your information by clicking on a link ? this is a popular scam that comes not from your bank but from criminals posing as your bank. Ignore the email and phone your bank about the message.
7) Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or mail advertisements. Some are from legitimate companies but there are some solicitations from companies who promise you a credit card over the telephone only to charge your existing credit card without ever sending you anything.
Also, some letters will promise you specific items or services. Once you send in your credit card information (usually to a post office box) you hear no more from the company. If you need or want to buy something from an unknown company, be sure to check the company?s standing with the Better Business Bureau first. Always do your homework before you buy, meaning make sure about where your valuable information is going.
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