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Identity theft,now that is a subject that will strike fear in the hearts of anyone who has a credit card or a banking account.  Just what is “Identity theft” or “Identity Fraud” and how can I avoid becoming a victim?  Well, fix yourself a cup of tea and let me enlighten you:

The basic definition of “identity theft” and “Identity fraud” is: A crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception for economic gain.  

Unlike your finger prints that can not be used by anyone else, your Social Security number, credit card numbers,bank account numbers, cell phone or calling card number can be used to perpetrate an identity theft and fraud before you even know it.  The victim of identity theft and fraud can suffer loss of funds from their bank account or other financial accounts or, worse case scenario, have their identity sold to many bidders.  The perpetrator (s) can run up vast debts and commit crimes while using the victim’s name. The victim, in turn, may have to spend more money and a vast amount of time to clear her good name and restore her credit.  Ladies, many people just have no idea how little information a good thief needs to get all that he (or she) needs to steal your identity and make your life miserable.  How do I protect myself, my family and my business?  I thought you would never ask.

A professional will ” shoulder surf“, that is they will watch over your shoulder(or stand near by) as you enter your telephone calling card number or a credit card number, not to mention your pin.  Be aware of who is around you in airports, hotel lobbies, at a car rental company, and for that matter, WalMart.  If you feel uncomfortable because someone is in your space, terminate the phone call or, if you are on your cell, move away. When using that little devise where you swipe your credit card and enter your pin, stand where someone behind you can not see what numbers you are entering.  True they may be just as honest as you, but you never know.

Change your pin number often, write it down if you must to remember it, but keep it in a really safe place.  A friend of mine can never remember her pin for a few days after she changes it, so she writes the new one down, places it in a plastic bag then puts it under the kitty litter box.  Now I don’t recommend you going out and getting a cat for pin security purposes, but you get the idea.

If you have a shredder, USE it!  If not GET one!  They are relative inexpensive and can be purchased at almost any store.  You know those pesky “pre-approved” credit card things you get in the mail?  Shred them immediately!  A criminal can retrieve the information and get a card in your name. Some of the large companies have a safety  net in place where your have to call from your home phone to activate the card, but his is not a universal practice yet.
Besides shredded paper can double as (you guest it) kitty litter.

This one may be touchy, but if you have been in a relationship and he has your banking or credit card information and that relationship did not end on the happiest of notes, you might want to consider changing your accounts, or at the very least, take is name off of the accounts in writing.

In today’s computer crazed world, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to get identifying information such pass words and even account information using computer technology. Heck didn’t someone hack into NASA once upon a time? Unfortunately there is little you can do to protect yourself except DO NOT open any emails from ANY company or individual that you don’t know.  This helps protect your computer from virus as well. Please, if you do open one, DO NOT respond-that is what the delete key is for.

The more personal information you have on your checks, such as your Social Security or phone number, the more information your are giving to someone who may not need to know that much about you.

Be very careful of any caller who says they are from your bank or credit card company, especially if they ask for identifying numbers, these companies all ready have that information on file.  Check caller ID, and don’t answer the UNKNOWN calls.  If you do speak to someone who says they are from your banking institution or credit card company, call the company to verify that they actually need to speak to you and why.

When traveling, have the post office hold your mail until your return or arrange for a family member or close Friend to collect your mail daily.  This is good idea to deter buglers as well.  Only take one credit card on a trip, have the credit card companies emergency phone number tucked away in your suit case just in case.

Check your credit report regularly.  Contact your credit card companies IN WRITING requesting they contact you in the event that there is any unusual activity or a big ticket idem placed on your card.

Sadly even though you have done all of the right things to protect yourself, and you still have your identity stolen, now what? ( Let me just note here that I have made a list of needed phone numbers and address at the end of this article.  I recommend you paste, copy, staple and store them in the event you ever need to use them).

If you believe you are the victim of Identity theft, *Contact your bank and your credit card companies and cancel all cards.  Most companies have a report form for you to fill out, have them email or fax it to you so you can complete it right away and get it back to them.

*Call the fraud unit of the three principal credit reporting companies (see below)

*Contact the Social Security Administration.

*Under the Identify theft and Assumption Deterrence Act., the federal Trade Commission (FTC) is  responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they are the victims of a credit card theft or fraud. Their number is listed below.

*While you are on a roll, be sure to contact your local FBI office and your local police.  Keep all reports and documents generated from your claim in a file. Record the dates and names of the people you spoke to and a summary of the discussion.  Follow their instructions to the letter.  R

Identity theft is a crime that the victim may not be aware of until it is WAY to late and some victims never recover.  I is estimated that every hour, someone’s identity is stolen.  By following these tips and using your good common sense you can go along way to avoid becoming a victim or at lease minimizing the damage.

Resources for this article are.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bank of America Fraud Prevention
Lots of experience

If you have any questions or have concerns, you can contact me at [Link Removed]  If I can’t help you, I can direct you to someone who can

******************************************************

 NUMBERS I HOPE YOU NEVER NEED:
Social Security Administration..... 1-800-269-0271
Federal Trade Commission............1-877-438-4338
Equifax:

 Report a fraud.....................1-800-525-6285

 Request your credit report.........1-800-685-111

 Opt out of pre-approved offers.....1-888-567-8688
Experian (formerly TRW):

 Report a fraud.....................1-888-397-3742  

 Request your credit report.........1-888-EXPERIAN

 Opt out of pre-approved offers.....1-800-353-0809
TransUnion:

 Report a fraud.....................1-800-680-7289

 Request your credit report.........1-800-888-4213

 Opt out of pre-approved offers, send the request to:

 TransUnion, P.O. Box 97328, Jackson, Ms. 39238.
Note: As with all numbers, they are subject to change but these are the latest on file.


Sandygpi, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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