Protecting Your Identity

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PROTECTING YOUR IDENTITY
Felicia Cervantes
IDENTITY THEFT
Using someone's personal identifying data for unlawful
purpose. (This is a SERIOUS crime.)
More than 8 million American Adults fell victim to identity theft in
2012, all adding up roughly to $37 billion.
Thieves may rummage through your trash, steal your
wallet, “skim” data off your credit card or they may go
“phising” on the Internet. (Using misleading emails and
fraudulent websites to get you to reveal personal
information.)
HOW CAN I PROTECT
MYSELF AGAINST
IDENTITY THEFT?
Today, there is no sure way to protect yourself completely from Identity
Theft.
You use Personal Identifying all the time, whether its accessing your
bank account or applying for a loan.
You may be able to help avoid Identity Theft by using these tips:
10 TIPS FOR IDENTITY THEFT
PROTECTION
PROTECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!! Don't carry your
card around, and if your health care provider uses your Social, ask for
another number
Fight "phising"-don't take the bait! Scam artists pretend to be banks,
state or government agencies, either by phone, emails, and your regular
mail. NEVER give out your personal information unless YOU made
the contact, don't respond to requests that ask you to verify your
account number or password. Legit companies will not request this
kind of information in this way.
Keep your identity from getting trashed. SHRED or TEAR up papers
with personal information on them BEFORE you throw them away.
Shred credit card offers and "convenience checks" you don't use
10 TIPS CONT.
Control Your Personal Finance Information. California LAW requires
your bank and other financial service companies to get your permission
before sharing any personal financial information with outside
companies. You have the ability to limit the amount of sharing going on
between your banks affiliates
. Shield your computer from viruses and spies. Use STRONG passwords
with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that is easy to
remember but difficult for others to guess. Use a firewall, virus and
spyware for protection. Never install software unless you know what it
is. Set your Internet browser to at least a medium in security. DO NOT
click on pop up windows or spam email.
10 TIPS CONT.
Click with Caution. When shopping online make sure its a credited
website before imputing your credit card number or other personal
information. Read privacy policy carefully. If there is no privacy policy
BEWARE!!! Only enter personal information on secure websites that
have "http" in the address bar and a lock symbol at the bottom of the
browser window. These ensure that your information will be encrypted
or scrambled protecting it from hacker.
Check your bills and bank statements!! Open your credit card and bank
statements right away. Check carefully for anything unusual. Call if bills
don’t arrive on time. This could mean that someone has changed
information to hide fraudulent charges.
Stop pre-approved credit offers. Call 1-888-5OPTOUT (367-8688)or
online at optoutprescreen.com.
10 TIPS CONT.
Ask Questions. Ask whenever you are asked for personal information
that seems inappropriate for the transaction. Ask how the information
will be used and if it will be shared. Ask how it will be protected, if you
are not satisfied with the answers consider going somewhere else.
Check your credit card reports – for FREE. Monitor your credit
history. You can get one free credit report every year from Equifax,
Esperian and TransUnion. Check it every four months. To order your
free annual credit reports call toll free 1-877-322-8228 or email at
annualcreditrepot.com
HOW DO I KNOW IF SOMEONE IS
USING MY IDENTITY TO RUN UP
BILLS?
Some identity thieves go undetected for a long time. The victim only discovers the
situation after an unsolicited credit card comes, or a debt collector calls about an
unpaid and unfamiliar debt.
Be sure to check your credit report at least once a year.
If you haven’t established credit history as a teenager don’t be alarmed if you
initially receive “report not found”
If you find inaccurate information contact:
1-888-397-3742/Experian.com (credit reports, security freezes)
1-800-685-1111equifax.com (credit reports, security freezes)
1-800-525-6285(fraud assistance service center)
1-800-888-4213/Transunion.com (credit reports)
1-800-680-7289 (fraud reports, alerts)
1-888-909-8872 (security freezes)
If you are an identity thief victim you are entitled to receive one free copy of your
credit report from each credit bureau each month for up to 12 consecutive
months. If the thief is caught you could get some restitution to repair your
damaged credit by law.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO IF I THINK SOMEONE
USING MY IDENTITY TO GET CREDIT?
For guidance visit California office of privacy protection privacy.ca.gov,
Identity theft Resource center idtheftcenter.org, the Privacy rights
Clearinghouse privacyrights.org, and the Federal Trade Commission ftc.gov.
You should also file a police report, register a complaint with the Federal
Trade Commission, fill out the FTC’s I Theft Affidavit and contact all affected
creditors.
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