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Guarding Your Possessions Against Identity Fraud

04.22.2009 · Posted in Home and Garden Articles

The crime of identity theft is not only financially devastating, it also invades every aspect of your life, making you feel unsafe and afraid. Unfortunately, this crime is on the rise. nnWith profound internet usage, personal information, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and banking information are being ping-ponged across the world wide web. nnThis leaves the sender with only the ability to hope it will land in the right hands. All too often, however, this information falls short of its location and rolls off into the hands of criminals. nnYou can protect yourself from identity theft: the key is to be aware of how it can occur and the steps you can take to avoid it.nnDo you know how information gets stolen? Do you know the risky behaviors that can lead to theft? Take, for instance, automatic payments. These are popular because they’re so easy, fast, and convenient. But can they lead to identity theft? nnLive check interception is an extremely easy way for a criminal to directly obtain all of your personal bank account information and begin purchasing items. nnE-checks are also very convenient, but they contain all the valuable information that criminals need in order to make fraudulent purchases. To be safe, you can limit checks to in-store use only. nnYou should also utilize the online bill payment option on secure websites. This is much safer than using checks and provides identity thieves fewer opportunities to steal your financial information. nnIdentity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, and it is sure to only rise as the economy worsens. Now is the time to take action to protect your personal and financial information. nnIn addition to online security, pay attention to your paper mail. Criminals are not above rooting through trash to obtain mail with sensitive information. In fact, this is one of the more common means through which identity thieves obtain information. nnCredit card statements, bank statements and other personal identifiers are all in there and will be at a criminal?s disposal. Shredding your documents before they reach the trash can prevent this invasion of privacy and loss of identity. nnLastly, make sure that the information you divulge online is protected by a secure website and that you check your credit score often. nnSince you are entitled to a free credit report each year, you should take advantage and use it to check for any irregularities. You can also get updates on your report for a small fee that will alert you to any changes. nnKeep a list of secure sites you use, whether they are vendors, creditors, or banks. If you notice a change in your statement or an unauthorized charge, you can contact them immediately so the damage is mitigated. It is possible to protect your identity but it takes some effort and knowledge on your part.

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