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Preventing Identity Theft Is Priority One

Apr 1, 2008
Identity theft is a severe crime that is growing each year. If you're a victim of identity theft you might spend months, potentially years, attempting to mend a ruined credit file. A seriously damaged credit file may compromise your opportunities of acquiring a new career, a bank loan, insurance or even renting a house. It's even possible to be arrested for a crime you didn't commit if an individual has utilized your identity to break the law.

Sadly, many of the means that crooks use to steal identities are out of your control to shield against. Although it is seldom, even store clerks have been known to utilize their position to send along information to identity thieves. There are certain measures you can take, however, that will make it more difficult for a criminal to swipe your identity.

Safeguard Your Credit Card Number When Buying Items

Subsequent to you making a purchase and your credit or debit card has been swiped through a credit card terminal, investigate to be sure that the printed copy hides all but the last four digits of your credit card account number (often there will be X's in place of the first 12 numbers). Some machines continue to print copies of receipts that supply all 16 digits of an account number, and may even consist of the date the card expires as well. After your card is swiped, you're authorized by law to hide the first 12 digits of your account number on the hard copy of the receipt that the seller maintains. Work with any marking pen that will do the function.

When you go to a restaurant, it is primarily important to be certain that the 1st 12 digits of your credit card number are masked on your receipt. You might be in the custom of signing it and then leaving the restaurant's duplicate receipt on the dinner table after your meal. A criminal could conveniently steal the endorsed duplicate receipt prior to the waitperson coming back around to pick it up from the dinner table. Don't take any risks.

Do You Really Need To Offer Your Social Security Number?

Another important way that you could guard against identity theft is to avoid offering your social security number unless it is definitely necessary. Although you need to give your social security number when you apply for a loan or for a bank account, on occasion a business or an organization will need to use it as an identification number, only to identify you within their system. This is a common procedure although the law states that social security numbers are not to be maintained as identification numbers. In these situations, use your judgment. There is usually an alternative if you inquire.

Eliminate Documents That Include Sensitive Personal Information

Purchase a paper shredder and apply it to terminate forms you're getting rid of which contain personal data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers and dates of birth. This is important to do both at home and at work. Identity thieves aren't above going through someone's trash to acquire valuable personal data that could help them get credit in your name.

If The Worst Occurs

If you do become a victim of identity theft, take the following actions without delay:

* Call your credit card companies, terminate your accounts and seek to have brand new cards issued to you.

* Place a fraud alert on your file with any one of the 3 major credit bureaus. The other two will be notified automatically.

* Put in a police report. You may be required to have it to show to creditors as evidence of the crime.

* Put in a complaint with the FTC, which maintains a database of identity theft cases utilized by law enforcement agencies for their investigations.
About the Author
William Hopkins hates identity theft especially knowing how LifeLock can help prevent it. Be sure to read his Life Lock review.
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