PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT
You might be wondering just what identity theft actually is if you haven't been a victim. Identity theft is the use of some ones name, birth date, social security number or other personal identifying information for illegal gain. If you have become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud, you should make a report with the police department where the crime occurred. Before contacting the police please complete an affidavit of forgery and bring it to the police department or have it available when speaking with an officer
While it's impossible to totally prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, there are ways to make it more difficult for a thief to target you. Some ways to deter the theft of your identity are:
- check your credit report regularly
- monitor your credit card bills for suspect charges
- buy a shredder and shred all papers before tossing them into the trash
- don't carry extra credit cards or checks
- don't print your social security number on your checks
- don't give your credit card numbers to strangers
- don't give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call
- use a name other than you mother's maiden name as security on your credit card accounts
The sad part about identity theft is that you might not realize you've been victimized until it's too late. A criminal can withdraw money from your bank account, run up your credit card account with huge debts, or obtain large loans. You are none the wiser until you get a large bill or worse yet a collection agency contacts you for payment. You usually don't have to pay back all that was stolen but it will take several months or years to repair the damage to your credit rating.
- guard your identity as you would any other valuable asset
If you think identity theft can't happen to you, think again. People who thought it couldn't happen to them have lost jobs, had their credit ruined, and some have even ended up with criminal records. Don't let this happen to you. Take extra precautions with your personal information.