Hints & HELP!
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the February
6, 2005 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.
theft: when fact becomes fiction...Do you know what to do
to protect yourself from identity theft? February 6-12,
2005 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW).
theft is currently the fastest growing white collar crime
in the U.S. Nearly 10 million Americans have been victims
in the last year.
thieves get your information by:
stealing your wallet or purse;
stealing your mail or completing a change of address
form without your knowledge;
rummaging through your trash at home or at a business;
using personal information they find on the Internet about
disposing of a computer, is isnt sufficient to delete
files by using the keyboard or mouse commands. It is best
to use a wipe utility program to overwrite the
entire hard drive.
identity thieves get your personal information they can
use it to:
call your credit card issuer and change the mailing address
on the card;
open a new credit card account or bank account in your
file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying off
debts theyve incurred; and
counterfeit checks or drain your bank account.
minimize your risk of becoming a victim of ID theft, you
not give out your personal information by e-mail, Internet,
phone or mail unless you initiate the contact and you
know who you are dealing with;
not carry you Social Security card with you;
carry only identification information and the number of
credit and debit cards you will actually need at the time;
place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts.
you think someone has stolen your personal information or
identification you should:
immediately close all your credit card or bank accounts;
place a fraud alert with any one of the three national
consumer reporting companies;
contact the Social Security Administration to get a new
Social Security number; and
alert issuing agencies for your drivers license
and other identification documents.
may be a victim of identity theft when you:
fail to receive bills or other mail;
receive credit cards for which you didnt apply;
are denied credit for no apparent reason; or
get calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses
about merchandise or services you didnt purchase.
you are a victim of identity theft, it is a good idea to
place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your
report periodically. This can help prevent an identity theft
from opening additional accounts in your name.
should not keep your passwords for your computer or Web
site taped to your computer. Always safeguard any of your
theft can happen to anyone. Start today to take precautions
around your home, business and in everything you do to protect
your identity. Watch what you throw in the trash. Get a
paper shredder and shred documents, letters and credit card
applications that contain your information. Protect yourself.
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