TIPS TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFTAn Excerpt:
What a horrible feeling it is to have someone steal your identity! Believe me, I know. One day I opened my new statement from a major credit card issuer and found that my balances were much higher than normal. Looking over the list of charges, I came across some extremely high charges at a men�s clothing store in Kissimmee, Florida and other charges at stores and in cities that I had never visited. The person who stole my identity charged over $5000 against my account.
Immediately, I checked my wallet and found that my only credit card for that account was still there. Hum? Next, I called the fraud number on my account statement, and spoke to the customer service representative. They questioned me about the illegal charges, immediately closed the account, and transferred the balance to a new account number. The next day, their fraud division called me and discussed the situation. This was followed up by an affidavit on which I stated that the charges were not made by me or with my authorization. Shortly thereafter, the charges, with interest, were removed from my new account.
But, how did this happen? I
still had my card, so the thief had to have access to my account number by
either stealing into my room and copying down the card number or by purchasing
the information from one of the vendors where I had ate or shopped. I was always
very careful about using and storing my credit cards, but still I became a
victim. Here are ways to reduce the chances of being a victim of Identity Theft.
But, how did this happen? I still had my card, so the thief had to have access to my account number by either stealing into my room and copying down the card number or by purchasing the information from one of the vendors where I had ate or shopped. I was always very careful about using and storing my credit cards, but still I became a victim. Here are ways to reduce the chances of being a victim of Identity Theft.
- Do not carry extra credit cards, Social Security Card or your passport except when absolutely necessary.
- Cancel all unused credit card accounts, and keep the number of credit cards that you use to a bare minimum.
- Maintain a photocopy of all of your credit cards, account numbers, expiration date and telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments. Keep this information in a secure place.
- Never give your credit card number to anyone over the telephone unless you have a business relationship with the company and you have initiated the call.
- Do not use your credit card on the internet or provide personal information such as social security number, birth date, etc. on an electronic application, unless the line is secured.
- Never write down your ATM pin number and when setting up the number, do not use a number that can be obtained by looking in your wallet (such as the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, birth date, etc.).
- Always take your credit card and ATM receipts with you and never throw them in a trash container.
- Install a locked mailbox at your home to reduce the possibility of mail theft or if necessary use a post office box in a secure facility.
- Immediately report lost or stolen checks to your bank Always check shipments of new checks to determine that all checks are there.
- Store canceled and new checks in a safe place.
- Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries asking about your account balance, verifying a transaction, or awarding a prize.
- Always shred financial solicitations that you receive in the mail, statements, invoices, etc., to keep thieves from using them to assume your identity.
- Always investigate suspicious items on your statements � immediately! Report errors right away to head off possible fraud.
- Check your credit periodically to make sure the information is correct